Traditional music master Del McCoury has earned Grammy nominations—and awards—before, but as he, his McCoury Music label and the Del McCoury Band savor the nomination of their Family Circle release for Best Bluegrass Album, a deeper look at this year’s candidates says something more about the man and his music. For while he’s a certified living legend who took home the nation’s top traditional arts honor this year, Del McCoury is also a vital presence in today’s cutting edge bluegrass as well, appearing on another five nominated recordings, including all but one of the Best Bluegrass Album nominees. McCoury guested with long-time friends Sam Bush (Circles Around Me) and Peter Rowan (Legacy) and joined Patty Loveless, who inducted him into Grand Ole Opry membership, on her Mountain Soul II, all nominated alongside Family Circle. But he reached further, too, with an appearance on two country nominees as well: his duet with Dierks Bentley on U2’s “Pride (In The Name Of Love),” recorded with Punch Brothers, scored a nod for Best Country Collaboration With Vocals, while Bentley’s album, Up On The Ridge, is up for Best Country Album.
Not surprisingly, the McCoury Band’s presence on other acclaimed projects goes beyond Del; Ronnie McCoury, Rob McCoury and Jason Carter all played and/or sang on Loveless’s project, and provided backing for a substantial part of long-time buddy Dierks Bentley’s album. In fact, when Bentley toured in the spring of this year to preview the album, he called on The Travelin’ McCourys—Ronnie, Rob, Jason and Del McCoury Band bassist Alan Bartram—for backing on club and listening room dates along with multiple national TV appearances.
For McCoury, being ready to help out—and keeping an open mind—just comes naturally, even as his talents are ever more widely recognized. “His voice has become more than bluegrass—he’s just a great singer,” Ronnie McCoury proudly says, and as this year’s Grammy nominations make clear, it’s not just with his own music.