Jerry Douglas Band at The Troubadour
by Larson Sutton on November 29, 2017
_Steve Rose Photography_
The Jerry Douglas Band’s visit to the Troubadour came with wonderfully colorful footnotes. Perception-altering experiences in Telluride with Sam Bush and Bela Fleck while watching Little Feat and whisky-laced basement songwriting sessions were two of several Douglas shared while lighting the wicks of his progressive bluegrass. And did that grass burn.
Douglas is recognized by many as the king of the resonator guitar, and on this penultimate stop of the group’s fall tour, he certainly added another stone to the crown. Alternating between resonator and electric lap steel, he led his six-piece of New Orleans and Nashville-groomed titans through two hours of blistering bliss. Dynamic and delicate instrumentals dominated the set, with a few vocal pieces like new cut “2:19” tossed in for good measure, with every note singing out as it sped on by.
“This one’s weird,” Douglas declared before “Battle Stick,” but with a caveat. It wasn’t weird enough. That was, until guitarist Mike Seal made his impressively fluid and angular contributions to it. And, like a lot of the performance, it was Douglas’ desire to deflect the emphasis from himself to Seal or fiddle player Christian Sedelmyer during numerous impeccable solos that kept things perpetually refreshing.
Devoid of gratuitous showmanship, the players let the music do the entertaining. In the more introspective moments, like a rendition of Weather Report’s “A Remark You Made” during a tongue-in-cheek mini-set of classic bluegrass that included Jimi Hendrix’s version of “Hey Joe,” there was a cauterized concentration that came off nonchalant and natural. Douglas clearly was comfortable in intimate space, expressing an affinity for the famed venue’s knotty pine and the audiences in Los Angeles, and that comfort carried through his highly proficient ensemble.
A superb final third of the show began with the now-25-year-old classic “We Hide and Seek.” Douglas claimed the hit continues to pay for a lot of his major appliances, and was rechristened by a confused fan at an earlier concert as “Come and Go.” The extended jam then moved to the single from his latest What If- the Flintstone-dream inspired “Cavebop,”- and one for his wife on “Senia’s Lament.”
Closing with another new entry, “Freemantle,” co-written with Fleck, the seven remained onstage for the virtual encore beginning with a raging “Who’s Your Uncle.” Douglas, worried that sending the crowd out into the L.A. night on such an up-tempo tune may result in difficulty driving safely, offered one more: a calming “Sir Aly B.” Caution to the wind, Douglas decided yet another song was worth the risk, ending with the racing, and, in this moment, ironically titled “Pushed Too Far.” For the appreciative crowd and this band of bluegrass virtuosos, there was no too far.
Authors: Larson Sutton