Even after 14 Grammys, Jerry Douglas is still exploring unlikely musical pairings, as evidenced by the soul- and bluegrass-melding rendition of “Hey Joe.” Off the upcoming record What If, out August 18th, Jerry Douglas Band blends a horn section with his and others’ traditional instruments, adding a new facet to an American folk standard made popular by Jimi Hendrix.
“Hey Joe,” credited to singer-songwriter Billy Roberts, was championed by Hendrix, who cut his legendary version with the Experience in December 1966. Rolling Stone listed it at Number 201 on the list of “500 Greatest Songs of All Time.”
Jerry Douglas Band’s version opens with a furious Dobro lick before driving to the chorus with thick ascending horn lines that suggest Sixties Motown. While more traditional Country instrumentation of fiddle and trebly electric guitar both take instrumental flights of their own, saxophonist Jamel Mitchell, nephew of Al Green producer Willie Mitchell, blows a bluesy solo that offers a fresh sonic counterpoint.
“If there’s guilt involved about advancing the music and trying to change it at all, I’m certainly guilty of that and bringing other influences from other genres of music into it,” Douglas told Rolling Stone in 2014.
Throughout his career, which spans more than 40 years – most of which were in Nashville – Douglas has brought unusual elements into the bluegrass sphere, exploring Scottish collaborations along with blues, jazz and folk influences with virtuosos Edgar Meyer and Bela Fleck. As part of Alison Krauss and Union Station, he earned eight of his Grammy awards.