Friday, May 7, 2010

A Country Star Rakes Through Bluegrass


 “It ain’t easy standing onstage with your heroes,” the country star Dierks Bentley said at the Highline Ballroom on Wednesday night. Still, he hadn’t dressed up for the occasion. His hair was maybe a bit more matted than usual, his 5 o’clock shadow a bit more honest. His black T-shirt had seen crisper days.

On either side of Mr. Bentley were members of the Travelin’ McCourys, who typically play, in suits, with the bluegrass kingpin Del McCoury. Here they were mostly untucked, perhaps as a nod to Mr. Bentley, who next month will release “Up on the Ridge” (Capitol Nashville), his fifth studio album and the first to be steeped wholly in bluegrass.

It’s a vanity project that requires Mr. Bentley to abandon his vanity. Onstage with this band, he’s the least experienced and least skilled musician, working in a genre where precision kills. The players are fearsome: two sons of Mr. McCoury — Ronnie, who plays mandolin, and Rob, who plays banjo — Jason Carter, who plays fiddle, and Alan Bartram, who plays upright bass. Read more in The NY Times.

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