Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver on band's silver anniversary tour

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Doyle Lawson has just finished vacationing in Montana and now he is ready to get back to work. For Lawson, going back to work involves performing on-stage with his bluegrass band Quicksilver, including today's performance at the Ezell Family Bluegrass Festival in Grassy, Mo.

Although the band has been on its current tour since February, Lawson said he likes to take time off between dates.

"I'm working on 42 years as a professional musician, so I decided to cut down some and enjoy some other things I want to do," he said.

Twenty-five of those 42 years Lawson has spent with his band Quicksilver. The band's current tour marks its silver anniversary. Over those 25 years there has been about 27 different members in the band, but Lawson has remained a constant.

"Here we are 25 years later and we're going stronger than ever," Lawson said.

By the time he created Quicksilver in 1979, Lawson was already a successful bluegrass musician. He started his musical career in the 1960s with the Kentucky Mountain Boys and was a member of the Country Gentlemen from 1971 until 1979.

"All that encompassed 16 years of my career. I kept inside me all the things I'd thought would be beneficial," he said.

When he formed Quicksilver, Lawson said, he wanted the group to be innovative and he wanted to keep the music fresh and exciting. Lawson has tried to deliver on that by releasing secular bluegrass and bluegrass gospel albums.

After the band's 1979 self-titled debut album, Quicksilver released 1981's "Rock My Soul," considered to be a breakthrough bluegrass album that introduced a new bluegrass gospel sound that combined four-part hymn singing with the string-picking of mandolin and banjo. It was a sound Lawson was already familiar with from growing up in East Tennessee.

Gospel music fansLawson said growing up he listened to his father sing gospel-tinged bluegrass music in an a cappella quartet.

According to Lawson, "the powers that be" recommended against having the band's second release be a gospel album, but "Rock My Soul" turned out to be one of the band's most popular albums.

Since that album was released, Lawson and Quicksilver have developed a fan base among gospel music lovers, while retaining their bluegrass fans. Lawson said he has noticed, however, that most fans of his gospel music are not fans of his secular music, while bluegrass fans have seemed to embrace the band's gospel sounds.

"It's a real delicate situation at times," he said of pleasing both groups. "I have to look this as the way I make my living and it has nothing to do with my personal convictions."

Although he is a devout Christian, Lawson said he doesn't feel compelled to always talk about his beliefs on stage, especially because the gospel music speaks enough.

"When I sing gospel, I believe in what I'm singing. When we sing our gospel music and touch somebody's heart, I believe we're being a witness to God and Jesus our savior," he said.

Quicksilver's latest album, "Thank God," is full of older gospel songs from songwriters like Willie Nelson, Carter Stanley and the Louvin Brothers.

Lawson said he selected the older songs for all the people who said "Rock My Soul" was their introduction to gospel music.

"If they hadn't listened to gospel prior to 1981, there's a lot that they missed," he said.

So Lawson picked out 12 songs he enjoyed while he was growing up and which he thought his fans would enjoy as well. He said the reaction has been positive since the album's release last year.

"The people who never heard them will say 'I never knew they were out there,' and the people who knew them will say 'thank you for bringing them back.'"

The album was recorded with Quicksilver's current lineup of Barry Scott, Jamie Daily, Terry Baucom and Jesse Stockman. Baucom was actually the band's original banjo player who returned to the band a year ago.

"The group as it is today I think is second to none," Lawson said. "We're just having a great time."

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