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Music review

Douglas takes Dobro past bluegrass

By Philip Martin

This article was published June 14, 2018 at 3:01 a.m.

You might think the Dobro is a fairly circumscribed instrument, useful mainly in bluegrass and Americana circles, or maybe as colorful punctuation in a modern country song that means to nod toward tradition. But in the hands of its foremost practitioner, Jerry Douglas, it can squeal like a theremin, peal like a bell, or honk, moan and wail like Jimmy Smith's Hammond B3.

While there are people who do not care for music, it is difficult to imagine any member of the congregation not being thoroughly convinced by the testifying that went down at South on Main Wednesday night when the Jerry Douglas Band witnessed to a slightly more than three-quarter full house that may have (quite reasonably) come expecting bluegrass but instead were treated to a latitudinarian demonstration that encompassed everything from be-bop to "the folk music scare."

Douglas, probably best known for playing with Alison Krauss and Union Station or as a studio musician who's appeared on more than 1,600 albums by artists as diverse as Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Tommy Emmanuel and Dolly Parton, has assembled a group of excellent musicians who seem philosophically opposed to coloring within established lines of jazz, blues, rock and soul. You might get a feeling for where the band is by triangulating between Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones and Sonny Rollins, with just a hint of Bill Monroe tossed in for spice.

Their expansive set included cheeky covers of "Hey, Joe," the garage band chestnut associated with Jimi Hendrix, Weather Report's "A Remark You Made" and Tom Waits' "2:19," which Douglas -- not especially known for his vocals -- growled with authority as the band pushed the tempo, inverting Hendrix's version.

The band -- fiddler/violinist Christian Sedelmyer; electric guitarist Mike Seal (the absence of an acoustic dreadnought on stage was an early signal that, in this band, the bluegrass gene wasn't dominant); bassist Daniel Kimbro, trumpeter Marc Franklin; Jamel Mitchell on tenor and soprano saxophones; and drummer Doug Belote -- was precise and swinging, fluidly switching time signatures and conversing -- communicating -- among themselves.

They obviously enjoyed the show as much as the audience.

Metro on 06/14/2018

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bork says... June 14, 2018 at 10:07 a.m.

I think, but couldn't confirm on deadline last night, that Marc Franklin is a Little Rock native.

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