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'Best Kept Secret:' Jerry Douglas' Dobro Wizardry

Jerry Douglas' dobro guitar work can be heard on more than 1,500 recordings. He recently added NPR to the list with a visit to Studio 4A.
Chris Nelson, NPR
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Jerry Douglas' dobro guitar work can be heard on more than 1,500 recordings. He recently added NPR to the list with a visit to Studio 4A.

When a musical group needs a dobro guitar player, Jerry Douglas is the go-to guy.

Artists from Garth Brooks to Paul Simon to Ray Charles have sought him out to add just the right touch of classic Americana. Douglas can be heard on some 1,500 recordings. And since 1998, he's been touring extensively with Alison Krauss and Union Station. Occasionally, he breaks out to make his own records. His latest, on Koch Records, is called The Best Kept Secret.

Jerry Douglas recently stopped by NPR's studio 4A and brought along his dobro, a six-string guitar with a metal plate, holes and a diaphragm made of spun aluminum. "The sound goes into the guitar and is projected right back out," explained Douglas. "It was meant to make a louder guitar."

Often played with a slide, the dobro was invented during the Hawaiian music craze of the late-1920s by the Dopyera brothers. Douglas recently presented their descendents with an honorary award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Douglas recently talked with NPR's Liane Hansen, demonstrated the dobro and performed in NPR's Studio 4A.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Liane Hansen
Liane Hansen has been the host of NPR's award-winning Weekend Edition Sunday for 20 years. She brings to her position an extensive background in broadcast journalism, including work as a radio producer, reporter, and on-air host at both the local and national level. The program has covered such breaking news stories as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the capture of Saddam Hussein, the deaths of Princess Diana and John F. Kennedy, Jr., and the Columbia shuttle tragedy. In 2004, Liane was granted an exclusive interview with former weapons inspector David Kay prior to his report on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The show also won the James Beard award for best radio program on food for a report on SPAM.
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