Del McCoury to receive Berklee honor

Del McCoury at Marathon Music in Nashville (1/24/14) - photo © Todd PowersThe Berklee College of Music is set to honor Del McCoury with an American Roots Master award when he performs with his band in Boston on September 12.

Despite having been founded in 1945 for the study of jazz music, a new popular style at the time, Berklee has as its mission to prepare young musicians for a career in popular music, regardless of style. Their acclaimed program has accepted bluegrass and old time musicians to study on banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar and bass for the past decade under what they describe as an American Roots program.

That program is under the direction of Matt Glaser, former head of the string department at the school. He says that the McCoury concert, which will also feature jazz and blues singer Catherine Russell, is billed as Inspired by Muddy and Monroe.

“The inspiration for this concert came from a wonderful book by Jim Rooney entitled Bossman: Bill Monroe and Muddy Waters. We wanted to envision Monroe and Waters playing together in the same band, exploring and sharing each other’s repertoires: bluegrass musicians playing repertoire from the blues tradition, and blues musicians playing music from the bluegrass canon.”

The show is meant to serve as both an educational opportunity for Berklee students, and a unique cultural opportunity for the Boston arts community. Berklee students and faculty will also be performing on the concert.

Del will accept his award during the show. Berklee defines American Roots music as encompassing blues, Gospel, folk, early country music, bluegrass, old-time, cajun, western swing, polka, and Tex-Mex, among others. There can be no debate that McCoury should be noted as a Master.

Congratulations Del!

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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.