The dobro is not an easy instrument to love.

It's a type of acoustic guitar with an aluminum resonator. The dobro is sometimes jokingly referred to as a guitar with a pie tin stuck in the middle.

Mike Auldridge, who will play with his band Chesapeake in Northridge on Friday night, loves the dobro. His interest in it was originally sparked because an uncle played the instrument on some old recordings with country music legend Jimmie Rodgers in the 1920s. But it was not until Auldridge heard the dobro in the hands of Josh Graves in the 1950s that Auldridge fell in love.

"He was playing the same instrument as my uncle. [But] it's [Graves'] music that really captured my heart," Auldridge says. "I really respected my uncle, but this was the way that instrument was supposed to be played."

And for at least the last 20 years, Auldridge himself has provided the standard by which all other dobro players are judged. As a member of the popular bluegrass band, Seldom Scene, Auldridge has won universal acclaim for his playing.

Chesapeake consists of Auldridge, bassist T. Michael Coleman, mandolinist Jimmy Gaudreau and guitarist Moondi Klein. All but Gaudreau also perform in Seldom Scene.

* Chesapeake and Howard Yearwood & Crossroads will perform bluegrass gospel music at 8 p.m. Friday at Shepherd of the Hills Church, 19700 Rinaldi St., Northridge. Tickets are $10 general, $9 seniors, $4 children 12 and younger. Call (818) 700-8288.

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