It goes without saying that Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver are among the most celebrated bands in bluegrass. Over the course of the group’s nearly 40 year career, they’ve accumulated a list of accomplishments that rivals any of those garnered by their contemporaries. Grammy nods, repeated recognition from the IBMA, numerous festival appearances, and a cameo appearance that found them guesting with Paul Simon on his song, Dazzling Blue, all add credence to an already rich resume.
Still, for those who may be new to the fold — although it’s hard to imagine anyone who’s still unknowing at this point — Live in Prague from Billy Blue Records, makes the best case for continuing credibility. What’s especially evident here is the band’s universal appeal; recorded in the Czech Republic — hardly a place one might normally expect to encounter a ready number of bluegrass boosters — it finds Lawson and company making a decidedly emphatic impression. The audience is heard applauding after practically every solo, and the group’s upbeat enthusiasm, especially on songs such as Driving It Home, Back in My Baby’s Arms Shenandoah Breakdown, Clinch Mountain Backstep, and Jealous, all attest to the fact that they’re feeding off the crowd’s effusive embrace.
They clearly find no cause to compromise their approach, for an overseas audience. When the group harmonize on the gospel standards, I’m Going to Heaven and their mega-hit, On the Sea of Life from 1981, they could very well be sharing their devotion with a church congregation on a typical Sunday morning back home in East Tennessee. The reaction is rapt and respectful by the same measure. The awe and admiration is obvious, which is little wonder considering the band’s adept instrumental interplay and the high harmonies so obviously evidenced throughout.
It’s also worth noting that when Lawson shares his stories and early memories, he’s able to communicate with the crowd as effectively as he would on a stage here at home. Although the language barrier doesn’t seem to be an issue, it’s the message in the music that allows for a compelling conversation.
It also ought to be clear by now that bluegrass is in fact a universal sound, applauded and appreciated throughout the world. Credit is clearly due Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver for not only affirming that notion, but also for taking the role of able ambassadors as well.