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Doyle Lawson hits a ‘Road Well Traveled’ to Lowville


Doyle Lawson’s latest album is appropriately titled for the bluegrass legend who has more than three dozen other albums to his credit.

“I’m in my 50th year as a professional musician,” Mr. Lawson said in a phone interview from his Tennessee home last month. “I’ve seen a lot of places and I’ve met a lot of people.”

The places and people have led to “Roads Well Traveled,” released in March. Mr. Dawson will share some of the songs on the album when he and his band, Quicksilver, travel to Lowville this weekend as part of the eighth annual Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival.

“The songs tell stories about different aspects of life,” Mr. Lawson said. “Some are melancholy and some are more lighter.”

Songs on the album were written by artists Mr. Lawson respects and has worked with previously. Others were written by bandmates or by Mr. Lawson.

“Roads Well Traveled” opens with “Dixie Road,” a hit for Lee Greenwood in 1985.

“I’m from east Tennessee and I’ve traveled to all 50 states and 49 foreign countries,” Mr. Lawson said. “But my heart has always been in Tennessee. ‘Dixie Road’ reminds me of when I’m out on a long trip and come home. I get a feeling when I get into Tennessee that I don’t get anyplace else.”

Mr. Lawson was honored in February 2012 by Gov. Bill Haslam for his contributions to the state and America through his music.

Another song with Tennessee themes on “Roads Well Traveled” is “By the Waters of Clinch,” written by Mr. Lawson. The Clinch is a river that flows from Virginia into east Tennessee.

“I wrote that as a reflective memory of my days on the farm,” Mr. Lawson said.

Mr. Lawson, who was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame last year at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, is well known for his gospel music. Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver were nominated as International Bluegrass Music Association Vocal Group of the Year and for Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year in 2012 for “I Saw Him Walk Out of the Sky.” The band is the reigning Inspirational Country Music Association Vocal Group of the Year, crowned in October at Nashville’s Schermerhorn Symphony Center.

Mr. Lawson, a champion mandolin player, noted that in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he did about six gospel albums back-to-back.

“It was a supply and demand thing,” Mr. Lawson said. “But at the same time, I’ve always been one who listens to fans.”

Some of those fans wanted more secular music from him. Now, he usually alternates his new albums between secular and gospel.

His concerts, he added, are also a mix, but he said his main goal is just to entertain people.

“You never know when people come in and they buy a ticket what kind of week they had or what they’re going through,” Mr. Lawson said. “They might be feeling a little down. If we can pick up their spirits and put a smile on their face and maybe a little joy in their hearts, that’s my objective.”

Mr. Lawson created his band Quicksilver in 1979. Its current lineup consists of Mike Rogers on guitar and lead vocals; Corey Hensley on bass guitar and tenor vocals; Josh Swift on dobro and bass vocals; Joe Dean on banjo and six-time Florida State Fiddle Champion Jason Barie.

“I’m looking forward to getting up there,” Mr. Lawson said of the band’s trip to the Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival. “I hope folks come out to be with us. We’re going to work hard for them.”

Keith Zehr, the festival’s promoter, said when Mr. Lawson’s agent noted he was available for the weekend, he didn’t hesitate to sign him up. He’s been trying to book Mr. Lawson for years.

“We’ve had many award-winning bands here in the past, but this will be the first International Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Fame band we’ve been able to book,” Mr. Zehr said.

The band, in its one performance at the festival, will perform an extended set of approximately 90 minutes on Saturday night.

“We prefer one longer set over two shorter ones,” Mr. Lawson said. “Once we get started, we like to keep going for a while and get the crowd into it.”

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