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Bluegrass icon Del McCoury gets his NEA due

A group of 18 artists will be presented with lifetime achievement awards from the National Endowment For the Arts on Friday. Yes, Philip Glass, the Marsalis family, blah blah blah. And let’s hear it for basketweaver Mary Jackson. But we think one of the most deserving recipients is bluegrass bandleader Del McCoury, who has long led one of the most distinguished bands in the genre. (Rock and alt-country fans probably know McCoury best from “The Mountain,” his 1999 collaboration with Steve Earle. The two men did not get along.)

SoundCheck would like to commemorate the event with the above clip, from 2002, of two typically splendid performances, of Richard Thompson’s “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” (a tour de force cover if ever there was one) and Bill Monroe’s hair-raising “Get On Your Knees and Pray.” Just stupendous. He kibitzes with Vince Gill at the end of the video.

Congratulations, Del.

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