Jerry Douglas came into playing the dobro through his father who was a bluegrass musician. As a teen he played with his father’s band, when a member of the bluegrass group The Country Gentlemen heard him. They took Douglas on tour with them for the rest of the summer and then later brought him into a recording studio. Douglas established himself as an in-demand studio musician, a position he has maintained over the years. To date, Jerry Douglas has appeared on over 1500 records and received 32 Grammy nominations, winning 14.
On his own, Douglas has 14 albums crossing a range of genres. His first two albums in the 70s stuck to traditional folk and bluegrass but with a jazz influenced spin. Later albums drew on the skills of artists that he encountered through his studio work, with collaborations on his records with Alison Krauss, Dolly Parton, Peter Rowan and others.
Jerry Douglas has paid tribute to his biggest influence, the bluegrass band Flatt and Scruggs by playing in the tribute group Earls of Leicester. The tribute band won a Grammy in 2015 for their debut album.
With more than 1500 albums to his credit, you would think there would be no one left that Douglas would like to play with – but there was at least one. Douglas had wanted to record with John Hiatt. Despite their both appearing on the second Circle record from the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, they did not actually meet.
Finally they met up backstage at the Newport Folk Festival and later Hiatt’s manager suggested that Douglas should produce his next album. When both agreed, the recording was scheduled – unfortunately during the pandemic – but it worked out.
According to Douglas, “So we went in and the pandemic hit. We were supposed to do this in April of 2020. So that wasn’t happening as the studios were closed but we finally got into RCA B that belongs to the Country Music Hall Of Fame. It’s where Chet Atkins made all the records with Elvis and the Everly Brothers and Dolly Parton and everybody recorded in that studio. So because covid had hit Nashville, they couldn’t do tours through the studio so we all masked up and went in there and separated ourselves in the room and made this record in about four days.”