Bluegrass music fans gathered in the Buskirk-Chumley Theater to see the SteelDrivers play Sunday. The show was part of the band’s tour for their latest album, “The Muscle Shoals Recordings,” which won the 2016 Grammy for best bluegrass album.
Before the show, Danielle McClelland, executive director of the theater, took the stage to introduce the venue as well as the band, which is based in Nashville, Tennessee. Many audience members raised their hands when she asked how many of them were first-time attendees of the theater.
This was the case for audience member Gary Cox, who said he started listening to the band with his daughter.
“She had a CD with her, and we played it in the car, so I like them, but I don’t know a lot about them,” Cox said. “I’m excited to see them play.”
During her introduction, McClelland also indicated her enthusiasm for the band.
“It’s been a big, busy weekend with a couple weeks of a lot of work and stress, and I walked in the door and the SteelDrivers were doing sound check and I just said, ‘Yes, this is what it’s all about,’ because they’re so good,” she said. “There’s a special kind of joy when people are able to play and listen to one another in that way. I think you’re going to enjoy them.”
During the opening song, the crowd demonstrated their agreement with her prediction with loud applause throughout the number.
The Steeldrivers fit the type of artist McClelland usually looks for to book at the venue, she said.
“We have to wait until artists get to a certain caliber, a certain audience level, before we book them here,” she said. “I started working with the agent when the SteelDrivers were nominated for the Grammy to get the show with them, so the timing worked out well.”
McClelland said the combination of the band’s Grammy win as well as evidence of their fan base in Bloomington motivated her to follow the band online and track where they were playing.
“I am generally going after everyone who is winning Grammys in any of the folk, Americana, bluegrass or blues album categories because they are playing more acoustic music, which does really well in this space because we are a seated venue,” she said. “So those genres work in this theater really well.”
It was apparent the band was a perfect fit for the venue as the music reverberated through the theater. After the band finished playing perhaps their most popular number, “Long Way Down,” violinist and vocalist for the band Tammy Rogers addressed the crowd.
“How are we feeling on this Sunday night?” she said. “We’re going to make it feel like Saturday night here tonight.”