Fourteen-time, Grammy-winning dobro player Jerry Douglas and his band were at Songbirds about a year and a half ago to play a private event.
As Douglas was leaving, he turned to Mike Dougher, Songbirds entertainment coordinator, and said, "Please bring me back to Songbirds. It's amazing."
Well Douglas — and his local fans — got their wish.
Douglas and The Earls of Leicester will take the stage at Songbirds South on Saturday, Sept. 14, for a 9 p.m. show.
The Earls of Leicester are a Grammy-winning bluegrass sextet comprised of Douglas (dobro, vocals), Barry Bales (bass, vocals), Shawn Camp (guitar, lead vocals), Charlie Cushman (banjo, guitars), Johnny Warren (fiddle, bass vocals) and Jeff White (mandolin, vocals).
They formed in 2013 with a goal of preserving and promoting the legacy of bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. By doing so, they hoped to introduce a new generation to that sound.
Within a year of releasing their self-titled debut album, they won a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and earned six awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Their records include live album, "Earls of Leicester," made up entirely of songs from 1954-1965; "Rattle & Roar" in 2016 and 2018's "Live at the CMA Theater in the Country Music Hall of Fame."
As Douglas points out, the most crucial factor in forming the Earls of Leicester was replicating the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry that fueled Flatt and Scruggs. "I looked for years to find the group I needed for the alchemy to work," he says.
He has said in previous interviews that at their first meeting, "I had to stop the band in the middle of the first song, because I was scared to keep going. It felt like Flatt and Scruggs were going to jump right out of the wall. I'd hoped it was going to be even half that good, and it ended up just taking my breath away."
In spite of all the honors the band was collected — including 2015 Album of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association — Douglas says the most rewarding aspect of performing with the Earls of Leicester is watching the reaction of their audiences when they play live.
"One of the biggest payoffs for me is playing this music for younger people, and watching them fall in love with it. And even better than that is having the older folks come up to tell me, 'I never thought I'd get to hear that music again.' That's when I know when we've really done our job.
"When people come to see us, we want them to forget about the outside world and all the stress or strife that goes along with it, and hopefully hold onto that feeling for a while even after the show's over."
ABOUT JERRY DOUGLAS
* Has 14 solo recordings; played on more than 1,600 albums.
* Has recorded as a sideman with Garth Brooks, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Phish, Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Mumford & Sons, Keb' Mo', Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, Tommy Emmanuel (who was just at Songbirds last weekend), and Johnny Mathis.
* Played on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack.
* A member of Alison Krauss and Union Station since 1998.
* Received the Country Music Association's Musician of the Year Award three times: 2002, 2005 and 2007.
* A 10-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Dobro Player of the Year Award.
* Received the Lifetime Achievement Award from The Americana Music Association in 2011.
If you go
* Where: Songbirds Guitar Museum, 35 Station St. (South), 41 Station St. (North)
* For more information: 423-531-2473
*When: 9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 (S)
* Admission: $15
JERRY DOUGLAS AND
THE EARLS OF LEICESTER
WITH TWISTED PINES
* When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14 (S)
* Admission: $30 in advance, $35 day of show
WITH VIDEO AGE
* When: 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17 (S)
* Admission: $25 in advance, $30 day of show
* When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 (N)
* Admission: $20
WITH DONOVAN WOODS
* When: 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 18 (S)
* Admission: $15 in advance, $18 day of show