WANT TO GO?
"Mountain Stage" with the Del McCoury Band, The Traveling McCourys with special guest Keller Williams, Susan Werner, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, and Mandolin Orange
WHERE: Culture Center theater
WHEN: 7 p.m. Sunday
TICKETS: Advance tickets $15. At the door $25.
INFO: 800-594-TIXX or www.mountainstage.org_____
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Del McCoury has a lot of love for the city of Baltimore. It's where the bluegrass great got his start and where McCoury first met bluegrass legend Bill Monroe.
McCoury, who performs Sunday on "Mountain Stage," said he first started playing in Baltimore with one of Monroe's former bandmates,
"There was this guy named Jack Cook, who was an ex-bluegrass boy," McCoury said. "He'd quit Bill and was playing in Baltimore, in a little club. He had his own band.
"I came along, see -- and I was a banjo player then."
McCoury joined Cook's band and was there the night Monroe came into the club, looking to bring Cook with him for a show in New York. Cook suggested they could bring McCoury along.
In New York, McCoury said, he expected the three of them would rehearse some before the show, but they never did. Instead, they tuned up and walked out on the stage to play.
McCoury didn't actually know all of the songs Monroe played.
"It was nerve-wracking," he said, "but I was confident in myself and what I could do."
And besides, he was a very good banjo player.
Monroe offered McCoury a job. The problem was, Monroe didn't exactly need a banjo player. He needed someone to play guitar and sing.
"He told me, 'You'll like the guitar better,'" McCoury said. "I didn't think so, but I didn't tell him that."
McCoury took to playing guitar.
"And I never went back to seriously playing banjo," he said, "and I'm good."