The number of people Jerry Douglas has played with is pretty much incalculable—although Del McCoury, a one-time compatriot, is set to perform at the Old Town School of Folk this week. Appearing on a steady stream of albums since the sixties, this Ohio-born dobro player has spent the better part of the last decade and change lending a hand to Alison Krauss in her backing group. The singer, who hails from Decatur, has counted innumerable accolades over time. And while Krauss’ vocals and acumen on fiddle are undeniable, the company she keeps isn’t too shabby either. Back when Douglas began his career in the sixties, he was part of a handful of players weaned on the Grand Ole Opry while simultaneously springing up during a time of radical social change. New Grass, as obtuse and gimmicky a genre name as there ever was, began offering up long-playing perfection. Before too long, Douglas found himself appearing on Tony Rice’s first album as well as David Grisman’s. Of course, at about the same time, the dobro player headed up his own group, issuing “Fluxology” and “Fluxedo” in 1979 and 1982, respectively. Including a tune big-band leader Jimmie Lunceford was attached to on that ’79 disc was interesting, but so was Douglas’ reworking of Dionne Warwick’s “Say a Little Prayer for You.” It’s one of those songs that’s so easily recognizable as to come off as a bit hackneyed. Rendering it all in instrumental terms sounds admittedly bizarre as well, but counts as part of the American culture loop in which seemingly unrelated fare informs distant performers. Douglas’ boundless career fit in well with Krauss’ well-received take on American music. There will, most likely, be a bit of room for Douglas and his compatriots to stretch out, but some singing will surely take up significant portions of the show’s run-time. (Dave Cantor)
September 9 at the Chicago Theatre, 175 North State, (312)745-3000, 8pm. $30-$65.