A (slightly) Dissenting View From Bluegrass Legend Del McCoury

We’ve made no secret how we feel about people who yak with their friends while the music is playing. Plain and simple, we think it is rude and disrespectful, both to your fellow show attendees, and to the artists performing.

A lot of artists have told us they feel the same.

Turns out, though, it doesn’t bother all of them. At least it doesn’t bother IBMA Bluegrass Hall of Famer Del McCoury. Del, who is the same happy go lucky guy off stage as he is on, says after earning his chops playing in noisy clubs, he just takes it in stride.

Del McCoury

Interviewing Del recently for a story about the upcoming Bluegrass Congress at DelFest 11 (we’ll post it after it appears in the print British Bluegrass News), we mentioned having seen him a few months ago in Bucknell University’s beautiful Weis Center.

“It was so nice to be at a show where you could sit and enjoy the music with nobody talking,” we told Del.

“Yes, I like that too. I’m like you,” Del said.

Uh-huh, we thought, a powerful ally in our crusade against chatters. But Del was not done.

“I like the variety,” Del continued. “I like playing in a club where they’re really noisy, because I used to do that a lot, years ago. And then I like a concert stage, and I also like a nice quiet theater, I like that when you can hear a pin drop . . . I like a nice quiet theater where, when the music stops, it gets as quiet as a mouse. And you can talk to the folks. It’s fun.”

“It doesn’t bother you when people in the audience are talking while you are playing,” we asked.


“It don’t bother me,” replied Del. “Hey I can out talk them and I can out sing them. They won’t hear nothing but me. That don’t bother me at all. That is how I got my  training, playing in an old, loud bar.”

Playing in those bars taught him how to deal with the situation.

“You’ve got to keep the music going, and when the music stops, you’d better have something to say, or they’re gonna get the upper hand,” Del said. “You’ve got to keep the upper hand, you see.”

It is probably worth noting that Del doesn’t play many bars these days. So if you happen to be next to us at one of his shows, let’s let him do the talking.