Artist-in-Residence: Jerry Douglas

September 30, 2008

Garth Brooks, proving once again how capable he is of seizing a moment, looked across the stage at Jerry Douglas and summed up why the Dobro master ranks among the most admired instrumentalists of his generation—and why he was named 2008 artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

“When you’re moving here, thinking you’re going to change the world, we all want to mean to our gift what you have come to mean to yours,” Brooks said.

Brooks joined several of Douglas’s esteemed creative colleagues—including country star Trisha Yearwood, Brooks’s wife—in the final of four artist-in-residence concerts hosted by the Dobro specialist. Like the other Ford Theater concerts, the sold-out evening revealed, in breathtaking musical terms, why Douglas is such a revered figure among other performers.

As always, Douglas played with unparalleled technique and an ability to make his instrument express a variety of tones and emotions. He also underscored his range and made brilliance look easy, whether leading his band through a tricky instrumental, or backing Brooks on a country rocker, Tim O’Brien on a bluegrass tune, Maura O’Connell on a Celtic-flavored song, or Yearwood on an aching ballad.

Beyond that, Douglas and his guests shared their sense of what well-written, well-played songs can communicate about the breadth and depth of the human experience. As Brooks’s comment intimated, Douglas’s dedication to excellence, and the way he nurtures the creative light within him, inspires others who have dedicated their lives to making good music, too.

As with other nights, the audience of a little more than two hundred realized they were participants in a one-of-a-kind musical event that could only happen at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

“You are most certainly in the right place at the right time,” Museum director Kyle Young said to open the evening. “For a few hours, you’ll be able to forget about politics, forget about the economy and your 401(k), because you’re about to be swept high above the maddening crowd to musical nirvana.”

For this final program, Douglas opened with several instrumentals from his new album, Glide, accompanied by his ace band: fiddler Luke Bulla, drummer Chad Melton, bassist Todd Parks, and guitarist Guthrie Trapp.

“It’s been an honor to be here for these four shows, and I swear I’d do ten more, if it was possible,” Douglas said before starting his first song. “It’s been a great opportunity for me to lay out my life, through music, and have friends on, and just play good music. That’s what this whole place is for.”

Douglas introduced his first guest, John Cowan, and said he had requested “Good Woman’s Love,” a song Cowan initially recorded in 1975 as a member of New Grass Revival. “I remember John singing this song at bluegrass festivals when I wasn’t supposed to be there, because my parents told me I had to stay in the camper, that I couldn’t go watch those hippie boys play. I would sneak off and go see what I wasn’t supposed to see. I remember this song from way back then, and it’s always been a favorite. The man sings!”

Cowan’s rendition, which managed to sound tender while astounding the crowd with his vocal power, drew one of the most explosive standing ovations yet during the four-show stand.

Douglas told a story before revealing the name of his next guest. “This guy is the first guy I called when I started putting these shows together,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why not just shoot the moon, start out high, go ahead and call somebody, they’ll say no.’ So I called, and he said, ‘I’m there, I’ll do that, I’d love to do that. But first I have to do this thing with Billy Joel.’”

Brooks walked out wearing jeans and a blue Kansas City Royals baseball hat. With Cowan still on stage to sing harmonies, Brooks tore into “Don’t Cross the River,” a song by country-rockers America that Brooks covered on his album Scarecrow. Before he reached the chorus, Yearwood walked out unannounced to join in.

“This is not a two-for-one,” Douglas quipped, referring to the famous husband and wife standing beside him. “You might think that, but it’s not. I talked to them separately.” Yearwood confirmed, nodding toward Brooks and joking, “I didn’t know he was going to be here tonight!”

Yearwood performed “Walkaway Joe,” with Brooks on harmony and Steve Cox on piano. She also praised Douglas’s role in the hit recording. “This is one of those songs that, when you finished, you didn’t know what was going to happen with it, but you knew something really magical had happened, and you were such a big, big part of that,” she said. “I’m excited to hear you play this again tonight.”

Yearwood  also performed a tender “The Nightingale” at Douglas’s request. “It’s kind of like karaoke with real people,” the Dobroist joked. Then Brooks and Cowan returned, and the singers joined forces for a rousing take on “Callin’ Baton Rouge,” a Brooks hit originally recorded by Cowan and New Grass Revival.

For the night’s second set, the Jerry Douglas Band again showed their stuff with three dazzling numbers, opening with the swinging “Emphysema Two Step.”  Bluegrass stalwart Tim O’Brien—“one of the most gifted and natural singers you’ll hear in your whole life”—offered a spirited take on his own “Look Down That Lonesome Road” and a mountain-music arrangement of “Hey Joe,” the blues-rocker best-known in its version by Jimi Hendrix.

Also appearing in the second set were guitarist Russ Barenberg, who recorded with Douglas and bassist Edgar Meyer on a 1993 album, Skip, Hop & Wobble, and singer Maura O’Connell, who Douglas noted that, upon her arrival in Nashville in 1982,  “took this town by storm and hasn’t let up.” Barenberg led Douglas and his band on the instrumental “Through the Gates,” while O’Connell showed off her grand interpretive abilities on two Paul Brady songs, “Helpless Heart” and “Crazy Heart,” and a tune built upon an age-old Celtic melody, “The Isle of Malachy.”

Before closing with a sweetly touching solo, “A Peaceful Return,” Douglas reflected on his artist-in-residence experience. “It’s been such an extreme honor to get to do something like this, folks,” he said. “It probably happens once in your lifetime. I’m a very lucky man…It’s been a great pleasure to be your artist-in-residence this year. I’ve enjoyed every second.”

—Michael McCall


September 16, 2008

Jerry Douglas, the world’s preeminent Dobro player, shed light on how musical genius develops during the third of his four concerts as the 2008 artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

By inviting important influences and collaborators as special guests, and by encouraging them, through example, to share stories about each other, Douglas revealed how young musicians often achieve their breakthroughs after absorbing the inspired work of pioneers who forged paths in front of them.

Across the three-hour concert, Douglas went from recalling his earliest musical memories to highlighting his current status in two of America’s most impressive bands. Along the way, he performed with his childhood hero, Earl Scruggs; one of his primary influences and mentors, guitarist Tony Rice; his long-running collaborator and boss, singer Alison Krauss; his close friend, harmonica player Buddy Greene; and the young, talented members of the Jerry Douglas Band, with whom he also tours.

“This is like a great big old birthday party,” Douglas told the sold-out audience filling the museum’s Ford Theater.

As the evening progressed, a theme emerged in how each performer shared important career turning points with others guests. Douglas recalled that at age six he began to share his father’s love for Flatt & Scruggs, especially the groundbreaking fret work of Scruggs. Krauss remembered hearing, at age twelve, the albums of Tony Rice, and how she obsessively listened and absorbed his progressive style of acoustic music.

“Life was never the same after that,” Krauss said. “For as long as I live, there’s that to reach for, when it comes to music. I’ve never heard anything like it since. So while we’re doing his music, at the same time I’m completely a fan of his.” She paused, smiled, and in her inimitable way, added, “It’s a little bit creepy.”

Douglas told of meeting Krauss, when she was fourteen, after a record executive brought her to Nashville and introduced her to the Dobro specialist and his friends, banjoist Bela Fleck and bassist Edgar Meyer.

“My first thought was, ‘Oh great, another one,’” Douglas said to a round of laughter. “But this time it was really, really different. As soon as she opened her mouth and sang and played the fiddle for us, we knew we were onto a brand-new road. It was something that was going to change everything for everybody, and she has not let any of us down, and really surpassed anything I thought could ever happen in bluegrass music, country music, anywhere.”

He also spoke of joining J.D. Crowe & the New South, at age nineteen, and what he learned by playing with Rice, the band’s guitarist, and mandolinist Ricky Skaggs.  “For me, joining the band was a chance to play with some musicians who were breaking ground everywhere,” Douglas said. “Tony was way out in front of that. I thought, ‘If I don’t take this opportunity to go play with these guys, this is a musical education I could not get anywhere else.’”

He then paused, his eyes twinkling, and added, “That’s a complete lie. I was probably not thinking anything like that at nineteen. But something told me I better go do it.”

Douglas and Rice acknowledged the influence of guitarist Jerry Reed, the country music great who died on August 31. Douglas’s friend and golfing partner Buddy Greene spoke of his years as a member of Reed’s band and of playing Rice’s rendition of a Reed song and the enthusiastic reaction of his boss.

Douglas began the evening with his band—fiddler Luke Bulla, drummer Chad Melton, bassist Todd Parks, and guitarist Guthrie Trapp—on a couple of instrumentals, the rampaging “Takarasaka,” from Douglas’s 1998 album, Restless on the Farm, and “Future Man,” a composition by Douglas and fiddler Mark O’Connor that opened the 1989 album, Telluride Sessions, by the acoustic super-group Strength in Numbers. The group ended its opening segment with a rousing, traditional take on Bill Monroe’s classic “Can’t You Hear Me Callin’,” with Bulla taking lead vocals and Douglas singing high harmony.

Krauss followed, joining the band for a beautiful version of “Till the Rivers All Run Dry,” a #1 country hit by Don Williams originally released in 1976. At song’s end, Douglas called Rice to the stage. He walked out dressed elegantly in a double-breasted suit and tie.

“I always worry about what I’m going to look like on stage when Tony shows up,” Douglas quipped. Later, he added, “One of the most fun things I ever get to do is just to stand next to this guy and play music.”

With Douglas’s band still backing them, Krauss sang Rice’s song “Shadows” while Rice and Douglas revealed why both rank among the most highly regarded string players of their time. Krauss then departed, while Rice, Douglas, and his band performed “The Last Thing on My Mind,” a Tom Paxton song Rice recorded on his 1983 album, Church Street Blues.

In introducing Scruggs, Douglas recalled annoying his elementary school teachers by drumming out Flatt & Scruggs tunes on his desk and, after being reprimanded, mimicking the banjo runs of the songs by chattering his teeth together. “He’s been the inspiration for millions, and he will be for millions more,” Douglas said as the Country Music Hall of Fame member walked on stage to a standing ovation.

At Douglas’s request, and with Rice still on stage, Scruggs led the musicians through Flatt & Scruggs’s instrumental “Home Sweet Home,” which Douglas recorded with the banjo great on his recent album, Glide.  Douglas also requested another Flatt & Scruggs tune, “Farewell Blues,” with Scruggs, Douglas, and Rice again trading solos. Following the song, the crowd stood as Scruggs left the stage.

With Rice still on guitar, Bulla performed the contemporary country song “The Suit,” written by Hugh Prestwood and originally sung by James Taylor on Douglas’s 2002 album, Lookout for Hope.  Scruggs returned to close out the first half of the program with a rollicking take on “Reuben,” another traditional tune from the Flatt & Scruggs repertoire.

Douglas welcomed visitors to the second show with a solo display that started sweet and soulful and turned into a showcase for the breadth of Douglas’s skills. Songwriter and harmonica player Greene sang a tender version of the Washington Phillips gospel tune, “What Are They Doing in Heaven Today?”

The pickers paid tribute to the late guitarist and singer Jerry Reed with a growling “Amos Moses,” sung by Greene, and “The Likes of Me,” one of several Reed songs covered by Rice over the years. Douglas then pared down to a duo with Rice for a stunningly evocative take on “Summertime,” from the George Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess.

Rice again took a break, as Douglas’s band returned for three instrumentals, ranging from a lovely ballad to a complex, improvisational jazz tune, the latter titled “Cave Bop,” after a dream Douglas had that included Charlie Parker and Fred Flintstone.

Krauss and Rice then returned, with Krauss lending her beautiful tone to Autry Inman’s “I Don’t Believe You’ve Met My Baby,” a country classic made famous by the Louvin Brothers that both Douglas and Krauss have recorded. She then sang a Gordon Lightfoot song, “Sixteen Miles,” that she learned from a 1986 Tony Rice album, Me & My Guitar. Krauss and Rice finished their performances with Ian Tyson’s great “Summer Wages,” which Rice recorded in 1988.

“Wow! What an unbelievable chance to play for you all,” Douglas said at the end of the night, just before his band tore into the closing instrumental, “We Hide & Seek.” “This is as much fun to do as I hope it is to watch. It’s nice to throw all these people into the mix and see what happens.”

What happened was magical, and a one-of-a-kind experience encouraged by the museum’s artist-in-residence series. The music these virtuosos made together, and the stories they shared of their artistic development, proved once again that the circle does remain unbroken. More than that, it’s rolling forward in good hands.

 

—Michael McCall


August 27, 2008
Jerry Douglas, the world’s preeminent Dobro player, gathered other paramount instrumentalists for the opening half of his second concert as the 2008 artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. The results resembled a special exhibition of Olympic gold medalists: an elite group of musicians performed at master level, pushing each other to spectacular feats and mind-boggling turns. The sold-out crowd in the museum’s Ford Theater sat awestruck by the daring displays of talent in this one-of-a-kind performance.

Joining Douglas were several players who pushed acoustic music to new heights in the 1980s, including his longtime friends and collaborators Sam Bush on mandolin, Bela Fleck on banjo, and Edgar Meyer on bass. They brought along two younger players who have drawn notice in recent years for their outstanding skills, Luke Bulla on fiddle and Bryan Sutton on flat-top guitar.

“You’re about to see some of the best friends I have in the whole world,” Douglas said before starting the three-hour concert. “I’m very privileged and honored to call them friends. We’ve been through all kinds of things together. It’s not just the rough hours on the road in the van. It’s a lot more than that. I don’t know what I’d do without any of these people.”

Later, for the second half, Douglas returned to the down-home music that first led him to Nashville and brought attention to his talents. Describing father-daughter trio the Whites as “family,” Douglas introduced Buck White and brought his daughters Cheryl and Sharon White to the stage. Their performance gave Douglas a chance to display his skills as a support player, while spinning humorous tales about their years of traveling the world together, playing bluesy, acoustic country music.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum Director Kyle Young began the proceedings with the convivial greeting, “Welcome to the Emerald City, you’re about to meet the wizard.” Young explained that the museum names only one artist-in-residence annually, and that previous honorees were Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, and Kris Kristofferson. Douglas’s initial artist-in-residence concert on August 19 focused on his new album, Glide, and special guests were steel guitarist Lloyd Green, songwriter Ed Snodderly, and country music star Travis Tritt.

The Dobro king opened his first set by bringing out Fleck, acknowledging the depth of their friendship by noting that the two of them were best men at each other’s weddings. They performed as a duet on “Another Morning,” a song Douglas said “the two of us have been playing together for a long, long time.” Like friends pedaling on a bike trip along a rural, hilly landscape, the two musicians started leisurely but soon reeled ahead, playing one dazzling run after another, while following each other as they eased through curves, chugged up peaks and raced at downhill speeds. The two originally recorded the Fleck original in 1984 on the banjoist’s fourth album, Double Time, a collection of instrumental duets.

Douglas expanded the party by introducing Bush and Meyer, who, along with Fleck and the guest of honor, made up four-fifths of the acoustic super-group Strength in Numbers, which released the cult-favorite album The Telluride Sessions in 1989. Bush, Meyer and Douglas performed “Bounce,” a song from Douglas’s new album. “We did a little tour last fall, the three of us, in a bus,” Douglas said. “A lot of space, a whole lot more than we’re used to. Before we did the tour, we wrote some songs together, because we wanted some new stuff to take out there.”

Adding Bulla and Sutton, and with Fleck returning to the stage, the six specialists tore into “Spanish Point,” a Fleck song from his 1999 album, The Bluegrass Sessions: Tales from the Acoustic Planet, Vol. 2. “What would you do if you had these guys for friends and they came over to your house?” Douglas said as he looked down the line, shaking his head in amazement at the collection of talent. “I keep telling my kids, ‘Don’t take any of this for granted.’”

The same group also played the funky “Green Slime,” a Meyer tune recorded with Fleck for the 2004 concert DVD Music for Two. They also stayed on stage as Douglas introduced his father, John Douglas, “who has had a bluegrass band for as long as I can remember,” the Dobroist explained. “When I was crawling around on the floor, I was watching bands rehearse in my living room. Very, very few people have gotten to do that, and I think that really had an effect on me growing up. I wouldn’t trade it for a million dollars.”

With John Douglas on vocals and acoustic guitar, the big band performed “When You Are Lonely,” a classic Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys tune, and “This Morning at Nine,” a Sid Campbell song.

After Douglas’s father left to a loud ovation, the band offered four more tunes: The high-speed “Who’s Your Uncle?,” which Douglas wrote in tribute to Uncle Josh Graves, who brought the Dobro back into popularity as a member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’s band, the Foggy Mountain Boys; “Lochs of Dread,” a Douglas and Fleck co-write that combines a reggae rhythm with passages of traditional Irish music; “Lights of Home,” a beautiful Bela Fleck ballad; and the traditional “McKinley Blues,” also known as “White House Blues,” which featured  Bush on vocals.

For the second half, Douglas introduced the Whites, recalling how they drove in an ice storm to West Virginia in 1979 to help him move to Nashville so he could join their band. “They turned me on to a whole lot of things I had no idea about—musically, spiritually, and just how to be a good person,” Douglas said. “They’re just very wonderful people.”

They opened with “Hangin’ Around,” a Top Ten hit in 1983, which featured Douglas’s Dobro as its primary instrument. It launched a run of songs taken from the tours Douglas did with the trio from 1979 into the mid-1980s, including “You Put the Blue in Me,” “Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling,” “If It Ain’t Love (Let’s Leave It Alone),” “Lonesome Wind Blues,” “Making Believe,” “Tumbling Tumbleweeds,” and a couple of instrumentals, “Fancy Dan” and “Abilene Gal.”

The group played without a set list, telling humorous stories about the old days between songs. Douglas recalled the time Buck White played a boogie-woogie piano tune at the Carter Fold in Hiltons, Virginia. During the song, Janette Carter—the daughter of A.P. and Sara Carter of the Carter Family—rushed on stage to tell Buck to stop playing the song. “There’s a woman out there doing an awful dance,” Carter told the group.

Carter dragged the woman up on stage for doing “the bumps and grinds,” said Buck White. “She was shining some boy’s buckle out there,” Douglas added. Janette Carter asked the woman, “Why are you dancing like that?” The woman replied, “I’m only dancing the way he’s playing.” They kept the number in the set, Douglas said.

They also spoke open-heartedly about their long-standing friendship and about how special it is for all of them whenever they get a chance to play together.  “The first time Cheryl and I sung with a Dobro accompanying us, it felt like, ‘Oh, now we can really sing,’” Sharon White said. “The music changed. We’d had a fiddle player occasionally, but usually it was just the three of us. We never had an instrument that was sustaining like a Dobro is.”

Douglas called the opening segment of super-pickers as “the brainiac” set. If so, the second part represented heart and soul, with the group expressing their close connection through the music and the stories. “This has been one of the highlights of my life, to be able to do this in this magnificent building,” Douglas said. He then looked to the Whites and added, “It wouldn’t have been the same without having you here.”

—Michael McCall


August 19, 2008
Jerry Douglas apparently enjoys challenges. Throughout his first concert as the 2008 artist-in-residence at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Douglas challenged himself and his band with difficult arrangements, dazzling ensemble interplay, and daring improvisation. After each astounding display, Douglas responded with a deep breath and a joyful exclamation. “How fun was that?” he said at one juncture, echoing a sentiment he repeated throughout the night.

The sold-out crowd of more than two hundred in the museum’s Ford Theater let him know they agreed, exploding in applause after each tune during the three-hour concert.

Douglas’s August 19 performance launched a four-part series of concerts marking his term as the museum’s artist-in-residence—only the second non-singing instrumentalist to be named to the prestigious post. Past artists in residence include banjo master Earl Scruggs, as well as Cowboy Jack Clement, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, and Kris Kristofferson.

On this night, Douglas concentrated on showcasing his new album, Glide. He played the majority of the show backed by his band, a quartet of young instrumental hotshots. He also shared the stage with guests, including country star Travis Tritt, steel guitar legend Lloyd Green, and singer-songwriter Ed Snodderly.

Douglas’s show traced his career as well. He referred to his days playing Dobro for the acoustic family group The Whites when introducing Green; he talked of his emergence as part of a young set of amazingly accomplished acoustic pickers when mentioning his former neighbors Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck and their group Strength in Numbers; and he spoke of touring the United Kingdom and playing with Celtic musicians like fiddler Aly Bain.

Throughout, Douglas proved why he is considered one of the most inventive musicians of all time—and the greatest player ever to pick up a Dobro.

Museum Director Kyle Young, in his introduction, said, “Like Bill Monroe on the mandolin, Charlie Parker on the saxophone, Earl Scruggs on the banjo, and Jimi Hendrix on the electric guitar, Jerry has forever altered the sonic scope and expressive capabilities of the Dobro. Jerry’s friends call him ‘Flux,’ a nod to his speed-of-light dexterity with the slide. One of Jerry’s fans has said, ‘If they had to pay for every note they heard at a Jerry Douglas concert, nobody could afford to go.

Indeed, the notes flew fast and furious at Tuesday’s concert, but each was steeped in intelligence, taste, and soul. The reigning CMA Musician of the Year, an award he has won three times, Douglas has risen to career heights rarely visited by an acoustic string musician. He has appeared on more than two thousand albums, including those by Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, John Fogerty, Phish, Earl Scruggs, Paul Simon, and James Taylor. He has won twelve Grammy Awards and is currently in his tenth year as the featured soloist in Alison Krauss & Union Station. The New York Times has described him as “the Dobro’s matchless contemporary master.”

Douglas began by introducing his band, “the guys who travel with me all the time, and I’m very proud of them”: fiddler Luke Bulla, drummer Chad Melton, bassist Todd Parks, and guitarist Guthrie Trapp. They kicked it off with “Unfolding,” an Edgar Meyer composition featured on Douglas’s Glide album, which went on sale the same day as this concert. (The Dobroist also played on the original recording of the song, the title cut on Meyer’s debut MCA Master Series album in 1985.

The opening set found the band tearing through “Wild Rumpus,” a Douglas tune inspired by the Maurice Sendak book Where the Wild Things Are; the darkly unsettling “Route Irish,” named for the road between the Baghdad Airport and the city’s coalition-controlled Green Zone; the beautiful “A Remark You Made,” written by saxophonist Wayne Shorter for the jazz band Weather Report; and “Emphysema Two Step,” a Douglas and Russ Barenberg composition from Douglas’s 1987 MCA Master Series album, Changing Channels.

Adding to the outstanding musicianship, Douglas told the kind of stories only a master musician would know. For example, he told of appearing in a segment of the CMA Awards with Marty Stuart, the two of them supporting Country Music Hall of Fame member Bill Monroe. During the rehearsal, Monroe kept playing new tunes for the two younger players and telling them, “Now you play it.” Game for the challenge, Douglas said, “I couldn’t figure it out, but I tried it anyway. I played it, and he said, ‘That’s wrong.’” Monroe repeated the challenge to Stuart, also telling him he got it wrong, too. “We finally got it, and Bill said, ‘That’d make you a powerful number,’” Douglas recalled, noting the interplay went on for two hours.

Douglas then introduced Travis Tritt, who joined the band for “Marriage Made in Hollywood,” a cover of a song by Irish singer-songwriter Paul Brady that is on Douglas’s new album. They also performed “Drift Off to Dream,” a 1991 hit from Tritt’s debut Warner Bros. album. They started into it, but Tritt had only sung a few lines when Douglas stopped playing, walked over and tapped Tritt on the shoulder to get him to stop, too.

“We’re in the wrong key, aren’t we?” Douglas asked. Tritt laughed and nodded, saying, “It’s your night, Dog. I was going to go with it.” Douglas responded, “You’re a friend, I’m not going to do that to you.” They then performed a memorable version showing what a strong singer Tritt is and how empathetic Douglas’s accompaniment can be.

Next up, Douglas brought out steel guitarist Lloyd Green. “As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best steel player that ever lived,” Douglas said. “When I was playing with the Whites, I would really study every move Lloyd Green made, on all those Don Williams songs, and every record by Charley Pride, Warner Mack, all those things. I would listen to how he phrased, and how he framed-in the singer and would make the singer better every time. I think Lloyd Green had a lot to do with shaping country.”

Green played “Two Small Cars in Rome,” a steel-string duet with Douglas that’s also on the Glide album. Green then accepted a request from Douglas to play “Jukebox Charlie,” an instrumental tune the steel guitarist originally recorded with Johnny Paycheck in 1966. It also appeared as an instrumental on Green’s 2003 instrumental album, Revisited.

For the second set, Douglas opened with a meditative solo medley on Dobro, then was joined by fiddler Luke Bulla on the Scottish fiddle tune, “Trouble on Alum.” The band then went into “We Hide & Seek,” an intricate instrumental that showed off the band’s agile skills.

Douglas introduced Johnson City, Tennessee, singer-songwriter Ed Snodderly, who played two of his sweet folk-country compositions, “Diamond Stream,” which has lyrics quoted in a stone engraving in the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Rotunda, and “Pearlie Mae,” which Snodderly sang on Douglas’s Grammy-nominated 1992 album, Slide Rule. The band then tore into “Pushed Too Far,” a song on Douglas’s new album that originally appeared on an MCA Master Series sampler.

Tritt returned to perform “Modern Day Bonnie and Clyde,” another of his hits featuring Douglas. The band closed with three more instrumentals, showing their breadth and their ability to play amazingly fast while always staying together.

“Man, I’m loving this,” Douglas said after one of the instrumentals. “And just think, I get to do three more of these.” (Remaining concerts are scheduled for August 27, September 16, and September 30. Each will feature a different lineup of special guests and backing musicians.

—Michael McCall