Hype-mag editor, Phil Sunkel, sat down with three-time International Blugrass Music Association’s Fiddle Player of the Year and two time Grammy winner, Jason Carter of the Travelin’ McCourys and the legendary Del McCoury Band.
P. Sunkel: Lets start this interview off with a personal question of mine. Imagine your back in high school, your just about to graduate. What if I could somehow have told you that a year from then, you’d be playing with bluegrass legend De McCoury for pretty much the rest of your life?
J. Carter: Well, that would be pretty hard to believe hahaha. It was always kind of a dream for me to play with Del. I had seen him play a couple festivals around but his fiddle player at the time had been with him for quite awhile, so I didn’t really think anything like that would be happening anytime soon. I actually went to vocational school for three semesters before I got my first fiddling job, which was with the Goins Brothers from Kentucky. Six months later I was with Del. It was a pretty exciting time for me.
P. Sunkel: Wow, that really all happened pretty quick.
J. Carter: Yeah, it did. We went to a bluegrass festival in Nashville, TN and Del happened to be on the lineup as well. Del’s fiddle player at the time knew I really wanted the gig, you know? So, he told me the McCourys were making the move to Nashville and he wouldn’t be able to make the move, so he’s leaving the band. Thats when I asked Del for the job and a couple weeks later he called me up and I’ve been with the band ever since.
P. Sunkel: And that was what 21, 22 years ago now?
J. Carter: Yeah, 22 years I guess.
P. Sunkel: Well its been one heck of a road for you and Del and the rest of the guys.
J. Carter: It absolutely has.
P. Sunkel: Now, you did put out one solo album along the way, right?
J. Carter: I did, hahaha that was all the way back in ’95 or ’96.
P. Sunkel: That’s like what, 18 or 19 years ago now?
J. Carter: Yeah, I’d say it’s about time for another one
P. Sunkel: Well, at least we got to hear some of your golden pipes on the Keller and the McCoury’s album “Pick” on the song “What A Waste”. Is there any chance we could see a Travelin’ McCourys album any time soon?
J. Carter: Not right now, our touring schedule has just been really busy but hopefully soon we’ll find a little time to get into the studio. I know we all have some new tunes that we’ve playing at shows that we need to get recorded. Alan (Bartram) just wrote several tunes, they’re actually really good. Hopefully though, we’ll have time to get to the studio and work on that.
P. Sunkel: Well you got to take the time when your attempting to make Grammy worthy albums all the time.
J. Carter: Hahaha well there you go. You know, last year we were working on two Del albums, one of them was actually the songs of Woody Guthrie covers, which will be coming out before too long and also Rob McCoury did a solo banjo album. So, that kind of took up most of our time when we were off the road.
P. Sunkel: Lets talk about the whole Grammy experience. You and the Del McCoury Band recently won the Grammy for best bluegrass album of the year for “The Streets of Baltimore”. What was that like?
J. Carter: We’ve actually been nominated 10 times, we’ve only won once before. I don’t know, this was a really special in a way. It was a very proud moment for Del and all of us but he turned 75 years old this year and really this album was more Del than any other album we recorded with him. Most of the time we all have songs that we bring, we still all had a hand in but this album was mostly Del. He wrote all the songs and he had it all figured it out of how he wanted to work on it.
P. Sunkel: Speaking of Del’s songs, do you have any favorites?
J. Carter: You know, I don’t know. I like all his stuff haha. I guess “Trainwreck of Emotion”, “In Despair”, all the tunes that he’s written are my favorites too. I think though that “I Feel The Blues Moving In” might be my favorite Del tune. Its kind of like the perfect bluegrass song to me.
P. Sunkel: Thanks for taking the time to speak with us Jason and we look forward to hearing what you and the rest of the band do in the coming years.
For more info on Jason and the rest of the Del McCoury Band check out: DelMcCouryBand.com