august 2008

'Flux' Up

By Billy Altman

Jerry Douglas

It is a bit daunting to realize that when the calendar turns to 2009, it'll be 30 years since Jerry Douglas released his first solo album, Fluxology—daunting because from just about the minute it appeared in 1979, the then 22-year-old Douglas found himself already being hailed as the future of dobro playing. That's some mantle to have thrust upon you at such an early age and yet, three full decades later, with now a dozen solo albums and appearances on the positively stupefying total of more than 2000 other recordings under his slide bar, the dazzling musician they used to call "Flux" is still the future of his instrument—or, as T Bone Burnett once described him, "The World War III of dobro players."

Like its predecessors going all the way back to Fluxology, Glide features the same seemingly nonchalant virtuosity that has always been Douglas' trademark. It also sports the same eclectic taste and insatiable curiosity that has characterized his entire career. So it is then, that amongst the expected, like "Bounce," a new agey workout with former bandmates Sam Bush (mandolin) and Edgar Meyer (bass), or the old school bluegrass breakdown "Home Sweet Home," featuring banjo icon Earl Scruggs, Douglas explores several roads less taken than for most musicians, let alone resonator guitar specialists. Cases in point: "Route Irish," a poignant tune about the war in Iraq (its name comes from a soldier-dubbed road in Baghdad), and "Sway," an evocative horn-rimmed piece honoring the devastated but ever-indefatigable spirit of New Orleans.

Still, perhaps the most memorable track here is the Rodney Crowell-penned "A Long Hard Road," which some may recall as a chart-topping country hit for the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band back in 1984. Hearing special guest Crowell finally singing it himself after all this time is a real treat - and so is its last instrumental minute and a half, wherein another guest, the ever-intrepid guitarist Tony Rice, supports and then pushes Douglas and the other musicians on call to reach for the skies. Which, of course, they do. As they say: Respect the past; embrace the future.  



Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
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