By JOHN LEHNDORFF
(9:15 P.m.7/29/16 Lyons CO) – While the Steep Canyon Rangers are onstage I’m backstage thinking about the last, rare set by Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas and Edgar Meyer. I’ve seen these guys play for 30 plus years delivering their virtuoso instrumental music that bears only a passing relationship to the stuff Bill Monroe played. Each is considered among the top two or three players of their respective instruments and almost never perform as a trio.
Edgar is a classical bassist and composer in a performance class by himself because he plays the bass as if it were a violin. Jerry Douglas, part of Alison Krauss’ band and leader of the Earls of Leicester, which recreates Flatt and Scruggs. He has totally redefined how the resophonic guitar//Dobro sounds. Mandolin innovatorSam Bush invented newgrass music. Together they uncooked a fiery virtuoso set that got standing ovations throughout. I was hearing old friends. A lot of folks, I could tell, were being introduced to this particular brand of music magic. Beyond bluegrass, the composition encompassed world music, chamber, folk, jazz and, frankly, a lot of rock and roll pounded out on some very expensive instruments. This is what makes Rockygrass cool, especially when banjoist Bela Fleck and mandolinist joined them for a bluegrass lightspeed encore, herby restoring tuneful balance in the festival universe.