Over four decades, Del McCoury carved a unique niche in the bluegrass universe. His pure tenor voice and flawless rhythm guitar – complete with subtle bass runs – have propelled a band that has included sons Rob (banjo) and Ronnie (vocals, mandolin) since the ’80s. Revered within the field, they’ve earned multiple awards, including two Grammys and added acclaim for seamless collaborations with Steve Earle and artists outside the genre.
It’s no surprise Almost Proud is a product of the pandemic, which afforded McCoury time to listen. He took in a broad spread of material, going back to “Rainbow Of My Dreams,” a tune he heard Flatt and Scruggs perform on radio in the ’40s. Del’s rhythm skills are especially clear on the ballad “Brown Paper Bag.” Switching to guitar, Ronnie adds a lyrical, flatpicked break to “Working Man’s Wage,” sung by his dad.
Rob McCoury drops a brief, sharply focused banjo solo into the bluesy “My Little Darlin’.” Ronnie, who adds spritely mandolin to the title track, sings lead on Kris Kristofferson’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore.” Every performance projects a joyous vibrancy, spirit and cohesion. This is no collection of soloists, this is truly a band.
This article originally appeared in VG’s May 2022 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.