They are an odd couple, the flame haired Irishman and the soft spoken guy from Ohio, but they are also two of the top musicians in the world. When the curtain goes up on the 36th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival Thursday afternoon, the opening act is dobro titan Jerry Douglas and Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Tim O'Brien. Who could ask for anything more…
Jerry is celebrating #25. Tim sends a salute:
Tim on Jerry:
"Jerry Douglas is a well traveled, universal bridge between traditional bluegrass and every other kind of music. He seems like my brother who just happened to reinvent the Dobro. The two of us have worked together closely at various times over the years, but our intersections have been infrequent in the past decade, so Thursday's Bluegrass show will be a wonderful reunion. We've each grown some while apart, so it'll be fresh and instructive. I'm hoping the tempos will be a little slower. He's like Sam Bush in that the only way to keep up with him is to start out earlier than him.
"I first saw Jerry perform at festival near my home town in the summer of 1974. He'd just joined the Country Gentlemen, and Charlie Waller bragged on him, saying he fit "like a glove" in their music. He was younger than me but he'd hit the big time and I wanted to do what he was doing. We met at a festival in Utah in about 1981, and sat in the Hot Rize Sedan De Ville and listened to mixes of Tony Rice's "Manzanita" album. There was no banjo on that record but you didn't miss it because of Jerry's playing, and that made Pete Wernick kinda nervous. But it hasn't been a problem – the banjo is still safe in bluegrass, and it turned out Flux showed all of us all how to play the music better.
"Traveling with Jerry, I learned to reach for the best in the music, the performance, and life on the road. He taught me that when you have a choice between checking into the hotel or eating a good meal, always go for the good meal."
photo of Jerry, Tim and the crew from 1995 by:
5836 Park Lane Road
Longmont, Colorado 80503