In the last few years bluegrass veteran Del McCoury has found an enthusiastic new audience among the citizens of the jam-band nation. I’m not surprised: with prog-grass bands like Leftover Salmon and the String Cheese Incident proliferating like so many weeds, those listeners have got to be hungry for a musician who knows that hot-shit playing is meaningless without solid songwriting and terrific singing. McCoury’s embraced his recent success on his own terms–onstage his band still wears crisp suits, sings and plays unamplified, and harmonizes around a mike or two. They’ll occasionally play the odd rock cover, but their repertoire is deeply traditional, and on their superb new album, The Company We Keep (McCoury Music/Sugar Hill), McCoury’s still singing about simple pleasures and timeless sorrows. On “Never Grow Up Boy” he reminisces about playing for five decades and enduring a lot of lean years, singing, “I played in churches, fairs, and dive bars / I ain’t never gonna act my age”; on “She Can’t Burn Me Now” he’s certain that he won’t get sucked into a destructive romance one more time. Better than the songs themselves are the ways McCoury inhabits them, imparting a familial warmth on “Fathers and Sons” and delivering folksy wisdom on “Nothin’ Special.” Of course it helps that he fronts a killer band–fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Mike Bub, and McCoury’s sons Ronnie on mandolin and Rob on banjo–that’s played together for 12 years without a lineup change. Though they are the proverbial hot shit, they never grandstand; their self-effacing charm has helped make them the most consistently enjoyable bluegrass band I’ve seen over the past 15 years. Cheryl Wheeler opens. This show is part of “Pickin’ & Biddin’ 2005,” a benefit for Old Town School of Folk Music programs; a silent auction begins at 6:30 PM. Sat 10/22, 8 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln, 773-751-3320 or 773-751-3343, $150. All ages.