Jerry Douglas – Glide

Jerry Douglas - GlideJerry Douglas, certified master of the resonator guitar, has a new CD due out August 19 on Koch Records. This will be his 12th solo project in a career that spans more than 30 years, and stints with a who’s who of bluegrass and acoustic artists: Country Gentlemen, JD Crowe & The New South, Boone Creek, The Whites, Emmylou Harris, Strength In Numbers and Alison Krauss & Union Station.

His distinctive slide style has been sought to grace recordings by artists as diverse as bluegrass/new acoustic stalwarts Bela Fleck and Tony Rice, to pop singer/songwriters Paul Simon and James Taylor.

Like previous Douglas recordings, Glide defies every attempt at stylistic pigeon-holing, and features a mixing of genres and sounds as varied as his career suggests. You’ll hear bluegrass influence throughout the majority of the CD, even when the tunes aren’t specifically grassy, encompassing elements of Celtic, American folk, country and rock.

We had a chance to get some feedback from Jerry about the new CD, and about a special honor that has come his way.

“I have been named Artist In Residence for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum for this year. I feel very honored by this appointment. Last year’s Artist was Kris Kristofferson. Earl Scruggs and Tom T. Hall have also had this title.

What this means is that I get do four shows during the months of August and September any way I see fit. I am trying to recruit some respected friends who have meant something special to my career down through the years. I also want this to be entertaining for both the folks participating and those coming to see a good show. There are only around 200 seats in the Ford’s Theater in the Museum and I want this to be something special for those there to remember.”

The Artist In Residency shows are scheduled for August 19, August 27, September 16 and September 30. Tickets are currently available for Museum members, and any remaining seats will be offered to the general public on Monday, July 21. More details can be found on the Hall Of Fame web site, or by calling 615-416-2001.

Given the variety of sounds he captured on Glide, I wondered how many different guitars he used in recording this album.

“I used quite a few guitars for Glide. The workhorse being my new signature model Beard in different tunings, I sometimes stacked tracks with other Beard guitars I have. Also used were an old Weissenborn guitar, lapsteels from Jason Dumont at Lapking Guitars and a Fender Tele I’ve had for years made for me as a lapsteel. I also played an old Martin D-18 and Gibson J-200 on some tracks.”

One track that really stood out for me is Sway sur Rue Royale, which Jerry wrote. It neatly captures the feel and passion of a traditional New Orleans funeral march.

“The funeral march, Sway sur Rue Royale, came at me after watching a TV show called NBC 360 where their staff musicians called in sick so their New Orleans refugee subs could work and make some money to send home to the families they had left behind. Their playing was beautiful and unique to the musicians of New Orleans. The whole Katrina disaster is so sad.

I wrote this song, which has a very normal, hummable melody, but needed a cross between a Salvation Army Band and Preservation Hall Brass horn sound. It is complex, and at the same time vulnerable to the point of sounding as if it might fall apart at any time.

My drummer Doug Belote has spent much of his musical career in New Orleans and guided me to the perfect musicians to pull this off.”

Another standout track is his cut of the bluegrass banjo classic, Home Sweet Home, made popular by the incomparable Earl Scruggs, who joins Jerry for this version, along with Tony Rice on guitar for a trio arrangement.

Home Sweet Home is cut completely live and off the cuff. I’ve been loving that song and particularly the way Earl Scruggs plays it since the first time I heard him play it on Foggy Mountain Banjo in 1964. It’s amazing how great he plays. It’s the same tone and attack that I heard then, and still makes me feel six years old every time I hear it.

There aren’t many times in your life when you can play music with such a master. I am very fortunate.”

Two noted vocalists and successful country artists, Travis Tritt and Rodney Crowell, join Jerry on Glide, and the songs where they are featured would be at home on country radio or on video TV. I wondered whether either was being pondered.

“Of course I would like to shoot videos and release singles to radio for every song on Glide. I write with a visual mind. Unfortunately, you can’t have a video for every song you write.

I think there are some strong contenders on this record, but we’ll have to see what the ‘powers that be’ have to say and if they see the same images I do. There is no use making them if no one is going to see them, but in my mind they are all movies, whether they have words or not.”

There don’t seem to be any audio samples from Glide up as yet, but they are sure to appear as the August 19 release date draws near.

This is one that fans and students of the resonator guitar will not want to miss.

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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.