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Del & Woody - A Review

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Del and WoodyDel McCoury has put together an exciting new project, Del & Woody, comprising a dozen original lyrics of legendary folk artist Woody Guthrie that are set to music by bluegrass artist Del McCoury. The project, a brainchild of Nora Guthrie, Woody's daugher, came to completion earlier this year. Del has worked on varied and diverse projects and this would a good fit as the music has similar roots.

Woody came from a different time and different roots than Del. Woody experienced first hand, the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression as he, himself, took part in the Oklahoma to California migration. "Dust Bowl Troubadour," as he was also known as became an icon of America's folk revolution during the late 1950's into the '60s. Guthrie died in 1967 at the age of 55.

Del McCoury has worked on may projects including jazz, country, and others. He is certainly familiar with the music of the time but, interestingly, he wasn't that familiar with Woody's material. Del is in the International Bluegrass Music Association's Hall of fame and received the National Heritage Fellowship. He is known around the world in bluegrass circles as well as other genres that touch the style. A true artist, Del put a lot of thought and planning into these songs to enrich Woody's lyrics with Del's musical style. The magic worked as these tracks present to the listener.

While Woody didn't put the life and energy into his performances that Del brings to these songs, Del does manage to convey the feelings that Woody would have. Prior to listening to this album, I pulled some dusty Woody vinyl out and gave it a spin. The vinyl brought to life Woody favorites such as "The Wreck of the Old 97," "This Land is Your Land," "Grand Coulee Dam," "Goodnight Little Darlin'," and many other old classics.

Having refreshed my mind into the sound, feeling, emotion of Woody Guthrie, I was ready to give this new project a spin. The gold mine of new material was exciting to open and experience. I wasn't disappointed.

Woody had a thing about trains and the opening track "The New York Trains" set the mark for what was to follow. Del sets these lyrics to his own music bringing these unfamiliar works to shine in the light for the first time. Like the "California Gold" that was lost, these works could have also been lost had it not been for Nora and Del collaborating to bring them a new life.

Some of the songs like "Hoecake Fritters," "Because You Took Me In Out Of The Rain" and "Dirty Overhalls" are obviously sung with a different emotion than what Woody would have taken however, the tracks are still fitting and very appropriate with their up tempo energetic presentation.

Del has managed to make music from a half century past and turned it into modern and contemporary music for today. He has brought a beam of light to breathe new life into the music of Woody Guthrie. Guthrie was a massive influence on the folk music and just possibly, this album will continue that tradition. Bluegrass and folk have always been joined at the hip and Del did a wonderful job in keeping that union binding.

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