Bluegrass MVP to perform in shadow of cross

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 84 views 

FAYETTEVILLE — Two-time Grammy Award-winning bluegrass artist Carl Jackson will headline a Saturday (June 23) concert of several well-known acoustic acts at a popular point in Fayetteville: the Mount Sequoyah Retreat and Conference Center’s Clapp Auditorium.

Born in Louisville in 1953, Jackson began his professional music career at age 14 and has played with or produced records for a long list of big-name recording artists, including Glen Campbell, Emmy Lou Harris, Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Patty Loveless and Merle Haggard, among many others.

Perhaps “teaming” with these country greats earned him the designation as “the MVP of bluegrass music” by Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. (Jackson got his first Grammy in 1992 for his duet album Spring Training with John Starling.)
Baseball references aside, Jackson is a legendary banjo picker and an exceptional guitarist who’s also well-acquainted with the other side of the mixing board. He won his second Grammy for producing the Louvin Brothers tribute album, Livin’, Lovin,’ Losin’: Songs of the Louvin Brothers. Brothers Ira and Charlie Louvin were a country music duo who helped popularize “close harmony” — a popular genre of country music. Johnny Cash’s recitation of “Keep Your Eyes on Jesus,” which is on the tribute album, was believed to be one of his last recording sessions before Cash died.
“Hold your Horses,” “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” “Jesse and Me,” and “Lonesome Dove” are but a few of the tunes with Jackson’s signature mark. And though Jackson has been known for running with the big dogs, he’s not relegated to playing only the hits. Concertgoers at Clapp can expect to hear a mixture of country, gospel, and bluegrass with some relatively unknown songs in each of the genres.

“Of course we’ll play songs that have been hits, but we’ll also play songs that haven’t been hits that we think should be,” he said. He prefers to perform in a living room-type setting, where “the stories behind the song will be told,” he said.

Over his career, which began somewhere in the 1970s, Jackson has witnessed how technology has transformed the music-making process.

“The technology is better and easier for new artists to record,” he admits. “Great music is still out there but what you hear on the radio is not great music. There are tons of acts today, but there aren’t a lot of artists.”  He credits models such as Vince Gill and Alison Krauss who have maintained high standards.

“[They] don’t have to be on the radio to fill a stadium.”

While he may sound like an elitist, he’s not.

“There is room under the tent for everybody,” he said.

Saturday’s show starts at 7 p.m. with a set by local legend and front-porch picker Jed Clampit, followed by Jackson accompanied by Val Storey and Jerry Salley. Tickets are $20 each or $75 for a family with up to four children. But organizers warn again leaving anybody out — better bring grandma and grandpa too. Tickets can be bought here.