See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, December 9, 1998

Masterful Bluegrass

Posted By on Wed, Dec 9, 1998 at 12:00 AM

That high, lonesome sound associated with bluegrass music comes from the bends and twists given to a voice by singers whose technique sounds deceptively simple. James King and Del McCoury are co-champions in these sweepstakes, with fans of one acknowledging the skills of the other while assigning primacy to their own hero.

While McCoury's new disc is due in the spring of 1999 -- on Ricky Skaggs' new label -- King's latest project is out now and making a powerful case for the latter's role as bluegrass Pavarotti to the former's Domingo.

King's band is pretty young, but most of the members have been playing with him for four years or longer, which means that they have had time to meld their talents with the demands of their leader. The resulting sound swings, drives and floats to the dictates of the tune being played and the concept King wishes to convey.

The dozen songs on the album are selected from a wealth of musical Americana with nary an original in the mix. There are tunes by Stonewall Jackson ("Big House on the Corner"), Ernest Tubb ("Yesterday's Winner is a Loser Today") and Leon Payne ("They'll Never Take Her Love From Me") from the country side of the spectrum -- while Richard Farina's classic folk anthem, "Pack Up Your Sorrows," and bluegrass stalwart Charlie Moore's "Love Me One More Time" help spread King's voice across genres.

And what a voice it is, weeping one moment and pleading the next, before raising up in a flurry of notes to take a comic turn. In later years, this album will be deemed a classic. Get it now.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Garaud MacTaggart

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 21, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit