Ron McCoury, the mandolin-playing son of bluegrass star Del McCoury, called after a Nov. 8 rehearsal with Gwyneth Paltrow and Vince Gill in Nashville, Tenn.

"(Paltrow) just came in and sang the song about half a dozen times," McCoury said. "She did great."

McCoury, 43, accompanied the duet of the title track from Paltrow's new movie, "Country Strong," during the Nov. 10 Country Music Association Awards. The movie is set to hit theaters Jan. 7.

McCoury, who was born in York County and moved to Nashville, is a regular at The International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. But Nov. 10 was his first CMA ceremony.

During the interview, McCoury opened up about his group The Travelin' McCourys, which includes his brother, Rob, on banjo, Alan Bartram on bass and Jason Carter on fiddle. He said the audience should expect some surprise guests during the group's Friday show in York.

Was the April 2010 Governor's Awards for the Arts the last time you guys were in town? Yeah, it was. My father got the Governor's Award for the artist of the year. All of (my family was) there. I have my wife, Allison, and I have three kids. My oldest, Evan, is 12. I have a son Joshua, who's 11, and my daughter (Emma) is 7.

During you father's speech, he introduced his whole family. Were you expecting that? No. He's gotten some pretty neat things in the past and that was really something to go back home and to have him get that (award) there. You never know what dad's going to say. (Laughs)

You've won a lot of awards, too. Did you ever think you'd follow in your dad's footsteps that way? Growing up there in York County with my dad, he always had a band. I guess just in the back of my mind growing up I knew I was going to play. I started in the band in 1981. I was 14. By that time, at 17 or 18 . . . all I was thinking about was getting out of school and playing music and being able to travel. I guess by the time I was 23 or 24 . . . we decided to make the move to Nashville, and it was the best thing we ever did for our careers and the business and all of that. They call this Music City.

Have you stayed in touch with musicians and friends from York? A lot of the musicians (who played in my dad's band) were either from Pennsylvania or northern Maryland. We stay in contact with most of them. (Once a year) all my buddies that I grew up (with) and went to school with . . . get together. A bunch of the guys (usually go on a boat trip). When I go home, I try to see everybody. It's great to keep those friendships going.

You guys were honored at your alma mater, Susquehannock High School, in 2009. They gave (my brother and myself) the alumni award. I graduated in 1985 and (Rob) graduated in . . . '89. That was pretty neat. We just got a call and they said they wanted us to . . . be able to come up and be honored that way. We gave speeches, and we played some music, you know, for the graduation class. They had a lot of rain that day, so they had to put it inside. (The rain) was the only problem. (Laughs)

The Travelin' McCourys recently toured with Dierks Bentley. How did that come about? Dierks is an old friend of most of us. Dierks . . . went to college here in town, and I used to play at a place. He (and his buddies were) there every week. They were around the same age as Jason, so they really palled up together. Skip ahead and (Dierks) became a really big country star. He decided to make a record that came out this year called "Up On The Ridge." It's really like a country/bluegrass-type of record. It was kind of a big change for him. So he called us up to see if we'd go out and be his band and tour with him (in) April and May. We just had a blast with him. It was something different for us because . . . we had to plug in every night.

You sometimes have other musicians join you at gigs, right? (We've known) Dan Tyminski (who) plays with Alison Krauss . . . for 20 some years. We've had him join us (on stage). The guy that's probably going to be with us in York (Cody Kilby) . . . plays with Ricky Skaggs. In different situations, we do different things. We've got a record coming out with a band out of Florida that (is) called The Lee Boys. The music they play is called sacred steel music (which is an) uplifting gospel kind of music. It's pretty loud, and it's pretty rockin.' We've been friends with (Phish) for years. They have this whole other kind of music that is called jam band music. In York, we'll be doing a straight-ahead bluegrass show. We like to stay true to what we do . . . but be able to do a little bit more if we need to.

Any other collaborations that are in the works? One thing that we're doing with my father right now is a collaboration with a band out of New Orleans, and they're called the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. We have actually put the two (types of) music together. It's a really different sound I don't think anyone has done. If you're open-minded, you can learn a lot from other people.

Any places you like to stop when you come home? First of all, we still have our home we grew up in . . . outside of Glen Rock. I've got a buddy up in Hanover who owns a place called (Crabbs) Tropical Treat. We always like to stop in there when we can. When I was going to school, I was a busboy at Mr. Bill's Quarterdeck . . . in Leaders Heights. My wife, she was a waitress there. They employed a lot of our friends. It's since gone. There (are) a lot of places that have gone in the last 20 years.


If you go

The Travelin' McCourys perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, 50 N. George St. in York. Tickets cost $24 and $34. For details, call 846-1111 or visit www.strandcapitol.orge.

On the Web

For details about the Travelin' McCourys, visit

For details about the CMAs, visit

For details about "Country Strong," visit

Listen to the interview at

Read more artist interviews at

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