Jerry Douglas: The man behind the dobro

Passionate, genuine and warm are three descriptive adjectives that come to mind the moment you meet Jerry Douglas. And once you hear his back story, you'll definitely be wanting to know more.

WILKESBORO, N.C. -- Passionate, genuine and warm are three descriptive adjectives that come to mind the moment you meet Jerry Douglas.

Douglas gives off a genuine, kind first impression... but once you hear his back story, you'll definitely want to know more.

Douglas is possibly the best dobro, or resonator guitar, player in the world. 

"Douglas is to the resonator guitar what Jimi Hendrix was to the electric guitar," his website describes. 

A dobro is defined as a brand of acoustic guitar, commonly used in country music and typically played on the lap. The instrument has a raised bridge and metal resonator cone that produces a tremulous, moaning sound.

Some of your favorite songs probably feature Douglas, strumming away in the background, as his distinctive sound has graced over 1500 albums.

Douglas has collaborated with artists such as Garth Brooks, Paul Simon, James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Earl Scruggs, Ray Charles, Alison Krauss, Mumford & Sons, Eric Clapton and more.

And if that isn't impressive enough, the man has won 14 Grammy Awards along the way. 

 

 

Douglas' love of music is particularly apparent in his latest endeavor. He is currently collaborating with a Scottish folk group called Transatlantic Sessions. The group is currently in the United States for the first time.

"That was my dream from like the third note I heard in Scotland," Douglas says. "I was like, 'If I could get this to the states... I know they would love it,' because I love it so much... it's coursing through my veins." 

NBC Charlotte caught up with Douglas for a behind the scenes look at the Transatlantic Sessions' rehearsal prior to their performance at Merlefest, an annual folk music festival in Wilkesboro. 

Douglas has been performing at the festival since it's start, 30 years ago. For the special anniversary, he decided to bring in not only the Transatlantic Sessions, but also a special guest and friend.

"This is [James Taylor's] first time playing here (at Merlefest), I called him to see if he would do it because I've done other things with him and we're pals and he said, 'Yeah I'd love to do that,'" Douglas says. "James is the cherry on top." 

He says he was excited to perform with the Transatlantic Sessions and James Taylor at Merlefest because North Carolina is 'the cradle of civilization' for folk music.

Douglas' love of music was evident in the Merlefest collaboration. 

Rolling Stone described Douglas at the concert as "relishing singing harmonies behind Taylor, his face glowing with appreciation." 

"If it's possibly for an outdoor show on a sprawling college campus to be standing room only, the Transatlantic Sessions Tour set was as close as it gets," Journal Now described of the performance.

It's easy to see Taylor as well as the Transatlantic Sessions' debut at Merlefest was a huge success, thanks to Jerry Douglas. 

© 2017 WCNC.COM


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