RALEIGH — Triangle residents who developed a love for bluegrass during the music’s recent convention in Raleigh have another chance to hear some high-end picking all week at the State Fair.
Award-winning songwriter-singer Larry Cordle, along with acclaimed tenor singer and mandolinist Don Rigsby and band, are holding forth three times a day at an open-air stage near the Village of Yesteryear.
Cordle is probably best known for original songs such as “Highway 40 Blues,” a hit for Ricky Skaggs, and “Murder on Music Row,” a song he co-wrote that was recorded as a duet by Alan Jackson and George Strait. But he’s well-versed in traditional bluegrass, as is Rigsby, a former member of the Lonesome River Band as well as a solo artist who has released five albums.
At the fair performances, Cordle and Rigsby are joined by veteran pickers Mike Anglin on bass and Jody King on banjo and guitar. They offer informal sets that include Cordle’s original tunes, fire-breathing instrumentals and Rigsby’s powerful take on the Bill Monroe classic “Footprints in the Snow.”
“That’s just the way I conduct shows,” Cordle said Tuesday. “We do different songs every set.”
Cordle got to know bluegrass founder Monroe during several years in which Cordle’s Lonesome Standard Time band played the same club in Hendersonville every Wednesday night. Monroe, well into his 70s at the time, came to sit in with the band every time he was in town.
“Mr. Monroe, if there had just been even one or two people there to listen, he would have played until he was off his feet,” Cordle said. “I am going to be like that, because I love to pick.”
With an album in the can featuring guests such as Garth Brooks, Skaggs and Alison Krauss, Cordle maintains a full schedule that includes touring, songwriting, recording and running his own record company. A return act from last year, Cordle says he continues to enjoy the easygoing atmosphere and enthusiastic crowds at the Fair.
“We’ve had great crowds every day,” he said. “We've had a houseful nearly every show.”