The Blind Boys of Alabama

The venerable Blind Boys have grown increasingly ecumenical as they edge toward three-quarters of a century as a group, collaborating with lots of musicians outside gospel and even applying their splendid harmonies to material that strays into the secular realm. Teaming up with siblings Sara and Sean Watkins of the bluegrass-country band Nickel Creek (now on indefinite hiatus) for this show is a natural outgrowth of the Boys' latest album, Take the High Road, where gospel and country find common ground. The gospel harmonies and country vocals from guests Willie Nelson, Lee Ann Womack, Vince Gill, and the Oak Ridge Boys entwine organically, as do the arrangements, which lean heavily country with touches of pedal steel, fiddle, and dobro. The only track that doesn't work is "Have Thine Own Way, Lord," because trad country upstart James Johnson (who co-produced) mumbles distractedly all the way through. On the other hand, Hank Williams Jr. growls convincingly through a smart version of his dad's "I Saw the Light" despite his recent vision apparently being obscured by Nazis.
Thu., Nov. 3, 7 p.m., 2011

 
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