Sunday, 14 March 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee with Jerry Douglas

Jerry Douglas is the best (or, at least, one of the best) dobro players but, you may ask, “What is a dobro?”  Well, it’s one make of a type of guitar with a mechanical method of amplifying the sound.  Such guitars are called resophonic, I think, and the sound is amplified by a metal cone giving a louder and different tonal sound.  Dobros are played in a different position – flat – and with a metal bar rather than fingers on frets.  It’s much easier to watch than it is to describe and so let’s start with a solo piece. 

Get your coffee before the music starts.

A Tribute to Peador O'Donnell/Monkey Let the Hogs Out

This solo is taken from the DVD of an Alison Krauss and Union Station show and this shows his virtuosity.


Jerry Douglas is a magician on his dobro but, although I’ve been aware of him for more than 10 years, I never really listened to his music until I was preparing for last week’s show.  Then I saw, I listened and was won over  …. totally.

I saw a video in which he said that he used to sing but once he took up the dobro seriously he stopped because he could express all he had through the guitar.

We move onto a song made famous by James Taylor but Douglas and Alison Krauss sing a lovely version: Douglas sings too! 

Carolina on My Mind

I think this performance was at a celebratory do for Taylor and it was he, the bald man, who was whistling at the end.


So many of Jerry Douglas’ performances are like this in which he provides wonderful backing to others.  Despite this, he is worthy of special mention – a very special talent.  You may remember that he had this role in the Transatlantic Sessions last week.

One Winter’s Night 

Each instrumentalist is brilliant and this reminded me that so often this is NOT the case but when real talent gets together the results are amazing.

Played as the group, Strength in Numbers, who were:

Sam Bush - fiddle, mandolin
Jerry Douglas - dobro
Bela Fleck - banjo, guitar
Mark O'Connor - fiddle, guitar
Edgar Meyer – bass


Another Morning

Virtuosity!  Don’t adjust your pc or your eyes: a strange effect was added to the video.

Who needs words with skill such as this?


Choctaw Hayride

Here Jerry is part of Alison Krauss and Union Station and we have another brilliant exhibition of magic!

[No words needed]


Jerry has played on more than 1600 records and he recalls  -somewhere – that once, when moving house the phone rang and Ray Charles wanted him to play in a session.  In demand because he is bloody brilliant.

Untitled  with The Chieftains

A master can play anything anywhere anytime!  And The Chieftains aren’t bad either.


We’re almost finished but the virtuosity goes on and on.  Our second last video has a very young Jerry with Bela Fleck (banjo) firing off each other.

Cincinnati Rag

Don’t you just love those glasses!


 Patrick Meets the Brickbats

We finish with Jerry’s own band from 2002 performing what was for them the last tune in their set at Merlefest.

Jerry’s brilliance shines through but we mustn’t forget the other musicians around him who are, in their own right, fabulous performers.


I forgot about you for more than 10 years, Jerry, but no more.  You are up there with the best.  Thank you for opening my eyes and ears.

Well, that’s it for another week. I’m off to listen to this music again.   I hope you enjoyed your coffee and the music.   Tune in again next week and thanks for listening.


  1. Well,I didn't know that about the dobro and the sound was delightful.

  2. More joy.
    If ever I mention country music or bluegrass to people there is almost always a dismissive sneer but the virtuosity of the musicians is quite astonishing.
    Have you heard Bela Fleck playing Bach on the banjo? Strange but wonderful.
    As you say, Douglas has played with just about everybody who is anybody.
    Here he is again in the backing group playing "music to lift your spirits, and quite possibly the top of your head"

  3. Thanks again,JD. I think there's a lot of music you could be in touch with.

    James, Don't tell me I know something you didn't! Not a put-down.