Alan Jackson et al on Letterman

If you missed Alan Jackson and his all-star band last night on The Late Show with David Letterman – or just want to watch it again – the video is embedded below.

He performed Blacktop from his current release, The Bluegrass Album, with Tim Crouch on fiddle, Rob Ickes on resonator guitar, Sammy Shelor on banjo, Adam Steffey on mandolin, Scott Coney on guitar and Tim Dishman on bass. Ronnie Bowman and Don Rigsby (Justin Bieber?) sang harmony with Jackson.


Not too shabby…

If we can find a higher quality video, we’ll post that. Updated with new video.

The entire episode can be viewed in hi-res video on the CBS web site. This performance is at the final marker in the video timeline.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.

  • grasser

    Great job but I have a question. Alan is capoed at the second fret, playing from the “G” position. So, why is Sammy and the other guitarist, Scott Coney capoed on the fourth fret and also playing from the “G” position? How does that work? Or am I missing something?

    • Kevin Landon

      The song is in B — so Sammy and Scott are playing instruments in standard tuning. So Alan’s guitar is likely ratcheted up a whole step.

      • grasser

        What would be the point in that? Just wondering. Nothing else to do today. lol

        • Kevin Landon

          Ha! I think it’s something that singers do: His voice may sit better for tunes that are in G/D/F#, so it may make sense to use lighter-gage strings and tune up a whole step.

          • Kevin Landon

            Ooops! I meant A, D, F#! The kind of keys that would lend themselves to open chords when tuned up a whole step.

  • grasser

    But, he’s still singing in B.

    • grasser

      And, he’s making the G,C and D chord positions. Why not just slap the capo on at the fourth fret and make the G C D chord positions like Scott is doing?

      Actually, I don’t believe he is even playing the guitar and didn’t notice the capo was on the wrong fret.

      Not that that would make a difference. It IS Alan Jackson. heh heh heh

  • Jon Weisberger

    ” I have it on good authority that Alan’s guitar was tuned up a whole step, so he was in the correct key….It doesn’t matter why. Maybe he don’t like Capo 4. Who knows?” – Jason Burleson, on Facebook

  • grasser

    No, you’re right. It doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Just looks odd but hey, it’s a great CD!

  • brent

    He is terrible at Bluegrass. Backup singers? I don’t think he is playing that guitar. Another country singer looking for a place and audience to listen to them thinking that a banjo and fiddle makes a bluegrass band. Other players are great, but Alan Jackson needs to stick with his country music.

    • grasser

      Hey Brent. I really don’t think he is playing the guitar either, but it really doesn’t make a difference (to me) and besides, I could see some feathers were getting ruffled so I give it up.

      But, I do like the CD though. He couldn’t have gotten any better back up singers or pickers.

  • I am a Alan Jackson fan in country however, this hits me wrong somehow. I guess if it helps Bluegrass Music it is a good thing but the essence of the song reminded me of Smokey and the Bandit. I am sorry, it just didn’t do it for me. It was sorta like when Dolly did the same thing by surrounding herself with super pickers in a generic slick package that just sorta reeks of commercialism. Give me Sammy with LRB or Adam with the “Boxcars” or Rob with “Blue Highway any day where they are in their true groove with energy and hearts into their compositions. I am sure it was a good paycheck for them and it converted a few more country folks to Bluegrass. I hope that wasn’t to harsh.

    • grasser

      Not too harsh at all. It’s your opinion and you are entitled to it but this growing PC crowd in bluegrass is getting tiresome.

      And I look at it this way. I at least HOPE the band and back up singers were properly compensated. Lord knows you ain’t going to make a million in bluegrass so when something like this comes along more power to them.

      • Kevin Landon

        How is it PC to express an opinion? I’m not following you.

        But yeah, nothing wrong with musicians getting compensated!

        • grasser

          I wasn’t referring to your opinion. Just the three thumbs down that Wes received.

          • Kevin Landon

            Gotcha — thanks for clarifying!

  • Cecil M Lambert

    I believe Mr. Jackson is genuinely excited, respectful and a little nervous about this recording he has released. Excited, because it is music that inspired him, respectful, because he wants it professional and right, and nervous because he is on stage and on the recording with a representation of the best musicians and vocalists. Hopefully everyone, including the music, wins with these performances, and I thought this one was outstanding.

    • grasser

      I whole heartedly agree. I have the CD and really like it. I was only pointing out something that was odd to me. Heck, Alan didn’t even have to bring the guitar on stage as far as I’m concerned.