Jerry Douglas Brings Decades of Songwriting (and Bluegrass Great Sam Bush) to Phoenix

Perusing dobro player and music producer Jerry Douglas' résumé should make you tired. He's long been regarded for his superb mastery of the kind of acoustic guitar that features a metal resonator built into its body. It's a talent he's not afraid to use; the man is busy. In addition to his numerous solo releases, he has performed on the recordings of more than 1,600 artists. He really mixes it up, too. The list of artists to whom he's lent his skills includes Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Phish, and Elvis Costello.

When he performs at the Musical Instrument Museum, he will be joined by bluegrass great Sam Bush. The two have combined forces many times over the years, but Douglas is excited because this time, things are a little different.

"I can't believe this is the first time we have performed as a duo," Douglas says. "Attendees can expect a musical show with wit and humor from two fellows who have known each other for around 40 years.

"There has been a lot of water under that bridge," he says. "We are great friends and have played and recorded in different groups and formations in many genres of music. We have such a rich musical encyclopedia and history between us that anything is possible."

Activity is swirling in the periphery for both artists. Douglas says he has a few irons in the fire and says Bush is hard at work on a new Sam Bush Band release.

"I have been hard at work with the Earls of Leicester this summer, as well as Alison Krauss and Union Station. I am planning a recording of full-band duets for the coming year in which I will write and record with some well-known artists as well as some names that might not be on the big map yet."

The duets project will allow Douglas to check off some of the names on his wish list of performers he's wanted to work with. Still, there are many on the slate. "Peter Gabriel," he says, "is high on that list."

Douglas digs traveling because it allows him to remain open to numerous collaborative possibilities.

"I try to keep bringing new blood into the camp, and there is so much good music out there it's hard to keep up," he says. "My travels take me to some places that open my eyes and ears to new musics that are foreign to many, but this infusion keeps my own approach hopefully fresh. My work on the BBC TV show Transatlantic Sessions has given me some great experiences with artists that I would love to work with again, and just in the last couple weeks, I have been working with T Bone Burnett and Italian blues artist Zucchero. That has been one more wonderful experience for me."

When Jerry Douglas isn't making music, he's listening to it for both entertainment and inspiration.

"I have my staples, like Flatt and Scruggs, the Louvin Brothers, and the Beatles," he says. "Lately, I've been listening a lot to Jason Isbell, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, a great singer-songwriter John Smith from the U.K., South American singer Gabriel, and Weather Report."

He's also looking forward to perform at Musical Instrument Museum again.

"It has been my pleasure to play at the MIM on several occasions, each time in a different setting," he says. "This one will be very, very special."

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Amy Young is an arts and culture writer who also spends time curating arts-related exhibits and events, and playing drums in local bands French Girls and Sturdy Ladies.
Contact: Amy Young