With more than five decades as a professional musician to his name, Del McCoury is an elder statesman of American music, but at an age when many artists tend to slow down, McCoury refuses to rest on his considerable laurels.

In fact, with a pair of albums out in 2011, he’s busier than ever.

McCoury’s always moving forward, but his latest project, ‘Old Memories,’ offers a nod to the past. The 16-track album is a tribute to the music and memories of bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe, who McCoury worked with in the early ’60s.

“I had done songs of his on different albums I made through the years,” says McCoury, “but I’d never really thought about doing a whole album until the day we were flying home from the Grammy Awards — and by the time we got to Nashville, I’d made a pretty good list of what I wanted to do.”

It wasn’t a list of the usual Monroe standards because, according to McCoury, “I didn’t want to do a lot of things that everybody had already done; I wanted to do some things that weren’t real popular but were really good. Some were songs I’d never heard him sing, some were songs that he’d sing on a show — and some were songs that he sang on the record, but he made me learn the lead.”

“And I wanted to do them in the same keys he did,” he adds, “because if you change that, you just don’t have the same sound he had on them.”

‘Old Memories’ is available to stream or purchase digitally from McCoury’s official site, with a vinyl release scheduled for next month.

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