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Illness doesn’t stop band from dazzling

When we talked last week, Jerry Douglas was nursing the start of a cold that he was hoping wouldn’t get worse.

He didn’t get his wish.

Flying from Ireland to Jamaica, spending time on airplanes and cruise ships, and then getting on a tour bus and heading to snowy northeast Ohio all in the same month isn’t conducive to one’s health. The Leavittsburg native was feeling it badly when the Earls of Leicester returned to the Kent Stage on Tuesday.

Whatever congestion he felt in his lungs didn’t make it to his fingers. Douglas may have talked a little less than usual, he didn’t join in on the group vocal numbers the way he did when the Earls played Kent in 2017 and he skipped the post-show autograph session.

But, as always, the dobro master dazzled on his instrument.

Douglas posted on his Facebook page after the show, “It really sucks being sick on the road. You become a vegetable and can’t think of the obvious things that might make you feel better. Like hot tea or Tylenol. But then you get on stage and it all goes away. Maybe not the coughing, but the endorphins sure help. Thanks to some very special people in Kent, Ohio tonight. I was surrounded by them all night. The Earls rock!”

The band — Douglas, dobro and vocals; Shawn Camp, guitar and lead vocals; Daniel Kimbro, bass and vocals; Charlie Cushman, banjo and vocals; Johnny Warren, fiddle and vocals; and Jeff White, mandolin and vocals — opened with the standard “Salty Dog” (which I fondly remember from “The Andy Griffith Show” when it was played by “The Darlings” — actually bluegrass legends The Dillards with actor Denver Pyle).

For the next hour and 45 minutes, it lovingly recreated the music of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, which you don’t have to be a bluegrass fan to know. The group sang the theme song for “The Beverly Hillbillies” and the jingle for Martha White flour, and its “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” was used as the theme for the movie “Bonnie & Clyde.” The Earls skipped the “Beverly Hillbillies” but played the jingle and ended the show with a rousing “Breakdown.”

Douglas ripped through instrumentals like “Steel Guitar Blues” and “Just Joshin’,” which was penned by Josh Graves, the dobro player who influenced him growing up.

Camp’s tenor is perfectly suited for gospel numbers like “Mama Prays So Loud in Her Sleep” as well as the more rollicking bluegrass tunes like “White House Blues.”

White’s high harmonies complemented Camp’s lead vocals, and he took lead on “I Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow.” Warren — playing the same fiddle his father, Paul Warren, did as a member of the Foggy Mountain Boys — got a standing ovation (with a little encouragement from his bandmates) for his playing and singing on “Black Eyed Suzie.”

I hope Douglas is feeling better. He had everyone leaving the Kent Stage on Tuesday feeling pretty good.

• WAPS-FM (The Summit, 90.7/91.3) received some national recognition this week for “Rock & Recovery,” its nightly programming featuring music and messages designed to provide comfort, support and inspiration for those battling addiction issues.

The station was singled out at the America’s Public Television Stations Public Media Summit in Washington, D.C., where Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, lauded its efforts.

“When we look at solutions for addiction, there is no one-size-fits-all approach, but there is a common thread, and that’s education — something public media is uniquely positioned to provide,” Harrison told attendees. “Their Rock & Recovery channel for people recovering from addiction is one of the powerful and unique examples of what stations are doing to raise awareness and find solutions.”

• The organizers of LaureLive are expanding their festival lineup.

The Elevation Group announced this week that, in addition to the two-day festival in Russell Township in June, it will stage the Wonderbus Music & Arts Festival on Aug. 17 and 18 in Columbus.

Little beyond the name was announced this week, but the press release said the lineup, the location and ticket information will be revealed in early April.

Andy Gray is the entertainment writer for the Tribune Chronicle. Write to him at agray@tribto day.com.

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