Ralph Stanley & his Clinch Mountain Boys

This terrific double bill sports one indisputable icon in bluegrass pioneer Ralph Stanley, along with Jim Lauderdale, a superb singer-songwriter who's well on his way to becoming another. A banjo picker and singer of renown, Ralph Stanley, with his late brother Carter, helped establish bluegrass's classic high, lonesome sound back in the 1940s. Forced to carry on alone after Carter's untimely death in 1966, Ralph has long epitomized the Saturday night/Sunday morning dichotomy of carousing and reverence that is a key bluegrass component. His high-flying, piercing vocal style has only increased in character with age, as spectacularly demonstrated on his rendition of "O Death" in the Coen brothers' O Brother! film. Lauderdale is a prolific songwriter who has been covered by everyone from George Jones to the Dixie Chicks and Solomon Burke, and has even collaborated with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. He's an impressive singer too, in fact, just finishing up a tour with Elvis Costello, contributing harmony vocals as he did on every track on Elvis's recent Secret, Profane & Sugarcane album. A couple of Lauderdale's own albums have snared Grammys: 2002's Lost in the Lonesome Pines (a collaboration with Stanley) and 2007's The Bluegrass Diaries. And he just released another winner, Could We Get Any Closer? (Sky Crunch). (photo by Jim McGuire)
Fri., Sept. 11, 7 p.m., 2009
 
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