After winding his way last night at the KCD Theater in Louisville through a typically stunning solo dobro medley that culminated with the wistful Duane Allman classic Little Martha and a clever bit of live looping that provided invisible accompaniment, Jerry Douglas brought out his band and was set for serious business. That’s when the fun really started.
No sooner did drummer Doug Belotekick off the Southern fried fusion of We Hide and Seek than the multi-Grammy winning instrumentalist dropped his pick into the base of the dobro. What resulted wasn’t a look of panic on Douglas’ face or even a call for a quick time out to regroup. Instead, he flashed a broad grin, shrugged his shoulders and plowed right into the tune’s blend of reflective lyricism and barnyard groove. After a hearty round of soloing, Douglas shook his instrument from every angle until the pick fell out. That bit of onstage utensil retrieval earned the dobroist his first ovation of the evening.
Unlike his Lexington concert last November, which was devoted exclusively to solo dobro music, last night’s Louisville outing showcased a band that efficiently brought to life many of the multiple stylistic personalities that have long coexisted within Douglas’ playing.
For the jazzers, there was a remarkably faithful version of Joe Zawinul’s A Remark You Made where Douglas used the dobro to rethink the lead melody introduced by saxophonist Wayne Shorter on the song’s original 1977 version by Weather Reporrt. Or at least that’s what happened until the musical pecking order for the band was playfully reshuffled as the song progressed.
Those preferring something earthier were able to indulge in pair of Celtic flavored reveries (the Douglas originals Gone to Fortingall and Sir Aly B), a prime slice of new grass fun (Edgar Meyer’s Unfolding) and a bit of rootsy Crescent City-style party music (Leadbelly’s On a Monday).
There was even an electric adventure that bordered on rock ‘n’ roll. On a reworked version of So Here We Are, a trio piece from his 2012 album Traveler, Douglas plugged into lap steel guitar and jammed away on an amped-up romp still rooted in the dobro’s wily, wiry aesthetics.