Ralph Stanley at the Opry 

The Less Things Change

The Less Things Change
Dr. Stanley is as steady a performer as they come. He’s carried on as a standard-bearer for the lonesome-mountain sound in bluegrass and old-time music for the 40 years since he lost his lead-singing brother and musical partner, Carter—even as The Clinch Mountain Boys lineup has changed, and age has given his already haunting voice a more ragged edge (and slowed his clawhammer banjo playing). Early this decade, a little project called O Brother Where Art Thou? exploded Stanley’s audience and made him an Appalachian musical symbol of mythic proportions. People especially wanted to hear him do those dark, death-themed songs and—as he writes in his new autobiography—he found himself playing to dancing “teenagers at the Bonnaroo festival.” That was something different. But it was also validation. As he writes in the book, “I know that things change, but I’m prejudiced to the old-time style, the traditional mountain music.”
Fri., Dec. 18, 7 p.m., 2009

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