Del McCoury & Sam Bush Usher in Springtime for Nashville
Both Del McCoury and Sam Bush are living legends. Del was a Bluegrass Boy in Bill Monroe's band during the 1960s and Sam Bush has been one of the driving forces in moving Mr. Monroe's music into unchartered territories starting with the Newgrass Revival in the 1970s. Each man has gone on to develop a storied solo career while pursuing many collaborative projects along the way. Despite their success, each is also known for their sunny disposition and down to earth authenticity. This past weekend, after an unseasonably long winter, Nashville's cherry trees came into full bloom dotting the landscape with delicate pink and white blossoms while the tulips sprouted skyward with their own dashes of bright reds, pinks, yellows, and blues. With a sunny sky and warm temperatures, the setting could hardly have been more perfect for an outdoor afternoon concert in Music City's downtown Public Square Park.
Del and Sam weren't the only musicians performing last Saturday; even Emmylou Harris popped on stage for a few songs. Oh yeah, did I mention this was a free concert in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Nashville's Metro Government? Ahhh... It's good to be a Nashvillian. And, given this "free" event was underwritten by the many corporate sponsors of the event (huge construction companies, public relations firms, and large law practices to name but a few), I suppose it's good to know that the fleecing of tax payers by politically connected corporations offers some fringe benefits to the citizens/subjects of Metro. I seriously doubt that Del and Sam worry too much about such things. The legacies of men like them are much more vital to Nashville than those of any businessmen or politicians, anyway. While I'm sure they don't mind a decent paycheck, it is also obvious that these men love what they do and also enjoy the warmth of sharing their talents with an enthusiastic crowd. Some things you just can't fake, after all.
While watching Sam Bush's boyish enthusiasm (this despite his upcoming 61st birthday in a few days) and mouth-gaping grins as he lights up his mandolin, it is impossible not to recognize true joy in his being. And then there's Del. The man is smooth as silk, seemingly as comfortable on stage as he might be at his own kitchen table. My girlfriend, Kendra, remarked on how much she loved to watch these old master musicians who exude such ease and efficiency. That, too, is something that cannot be faked. One can feel the lifelong connection these men have to the music they play. In fact, the connection extends beyond their lifetimes in both directions. These are men who were born into cultural traditions and have knowingly and deliberately kept them alive and vital for the generations that will follow even after they've gone. Just as naturally as the gentle spring blossoms floating through the air last weekend will eventually be replaced by subtle snow flurries once winter comes around again, the traditions and vitality of American music will cycle forward, too, thanks to artists like Del and Sam.
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