If you’re not a big fan of bluegrass music, you might not know what a dobro is. Simply put, it’s a type of guitar, proper name "resonator guitar" – with strings that are further from the neck than usual, that has a bigger and louder sound, that’s played laying flat, sometimes on the lap, sometimes hanging from a strap, with a metal bar and fingerpicks.
If you want to become a fan of the instrument, all you have to do is give a quick listen to what Jerry Douglas does with one.
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"Fifteen years ago I was in the studio, producing someone else’s record," he said. "Alison called and said, ‘[mandolinist] Adam Steffey has left the band, and we have a bunch of dates and have to fulfill them. Could you go out on the road with us for these dates?’ So I went out on the road with them, and what was going to be a couple of months has turned into 15 years."
Krauss and the band are guest players on "Traveler," as are Douglas’ old pals Eric Clapton and Paul Simon. As are his newer friends Mumford & Sons, who share singing on "The Boxer" with its composer, Simon.
"I play a festival in Telluride, Colorado, every year," said Douglas of working with the British folk-rock band. "The producer of the festival was a huge Mumfords fan, and so was I because of my kids bringing stuff to me to listen to. They ended up playing at the festival, and I started playing with them there. That was four or five years ago, and I’ve watched them take off. They’re playing roots music, but taking it to a completely different place. We’ve been talking since then about doing something together, so when I was making this record, they were among the first people I thought of. I made the call and they said yes."