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Published: 2017/05/27

Members of Phish, The Black Keys and Preservation Hall Join Del McCoury Band at DelFest, Sunday Gospel Set Added

Photo via DelFest’s Facebook page

Del McCoury hosted an all-star jam session featuring a cross-generational cast of musicians during DelFest on Thursday night. The performance helped kicked off his 10th annual Cumberland, MD bluegrass and roots summit.

Billed as “Del McCoury & Friends,” the evening featured McCoury’s longtime band and included appearances by The Black Keys guitarist Dan Auerbach, The Preservation Hall Horns, bluegrass staple Ronnie Bowman and Jon Fishman, who played drums throughout the set. The Phish drummer has collaborated with Del McCoury Band numerous times during the past 18 years, including joining them onstage for a New Year’s Eve performance at Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium in 2007.

Del McCoury Band opened the show with takes on “Dry My Tears and Move On,” “Bluest Man in Town” and “Bluegrass Breakdown.” Then, Ronnie Bowman and Ronnie McCoury’s wife Garnet Bowman emerged for the Eagles’ “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and the Osborne Brothers’ “Little Cabin Home on the Hill,” before slipping offstage while the members of DMB offered “Smoking Gun.”

Next, The Preservation Hall Horns sat in for a string of songs from their 2011 collaboration with Del McCoury Band American Legacies, including “Banjo Frisco,” “Jambalaya” and “One Has My Name (The Other Has My Heart).” They also helped McCoury and his group through inspired readings of Roy Orbison’s “Careless Love” and Jellyroll Morton’s “Millenberg Joys.”

Perhaps the show’s most unique moment took place when Auerbach as well as Ronnie McCoury’s son Heaven emerged for a mini-set, kicking off with title track from the Keys guitarist’s new solo release Waiting on a Song. They then moved into “Trouble Waits for You,” the Bill Monroe staple “Can’t You Hear Me Calling,” the 2009 Auerbach original “Trouble Weighs a Ton” and closed the segment with another new Waiting on a Song tune, “Shine on Me.” The members of Del McCoury Band and Heaven then signed of with “Big Rock in the Road” and “All Aboard.”

Auerbach and Heaven have grown close since The Black Keys relocated to Music City; the younger McCoury has even participated in Auerbach’s “pickin’ parties.” Waiting on a Song is a celebration of the Nashville scene, featuring numerous collaborations with members of the city’s musical community. The last time the Phish and Black Keys worlds collided was in 2005 when Trey Anastasio joined the duo and an all-star cast for a sing-along version of Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” at Carnegie Hall’s Tibet House Benefit.

DelFest continues today. The festival has also announced a last-minute gospel tribute to Del McCoury’s older brother G.C., who passed away in February. Del will be joined by a number of special guests. The 30-minute show is slated for Sunday, May 28 at 10:30 am.

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