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Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mt. Boys - 11/11
at City Winery New York City
Ralph Stanley’s voice is not of this century. Nor of the last one, for that matter. Its stark emotional urgency is rooted in a darker time, when pain was the common coin of life and the world offered sinful humanity no hope of refuge. Preserved in the cultural amber of remote Appalachia, this terse, forlorn sound is the bedrock of Stanley’s inimitable style. But don’t mistake an ancient voice for ancient ways. Stanley tours and performs with the vigor and elan of a rock star.
Now 85 years old (as of February 25, 2012), Stanley has been performing professionally since he and his older brother, Carter, formed a band in their native southwestern Virginia in 1946. Between that date and 1966, when Carter died, the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys became one of the most celebrated bluegrass groups in the world, rivaling in popularity such titans as Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs.
In working with Stanley on the soundtrack of O Brother, producer T Bone Burnett was so taken by his sound that he signed him as the flagship artist of his new label, DMZ/Columbia. In 2002, Burnett produced the critically acclaimed album Ralph Stanley, a collection of ancient and old-time songs from England and Appalachia. The album immediately leaped into Billboard’s bestseller list and stayed there for weeks. And in 2006, Sony/Columbia released his album A Distant Land to Roam, a tribute to the Carter family. In November, 2009, Gotham Books released his autobiography Man of Constant Sorrow: Life and Times of a Music Legend (written by Dr. Ralph Stanley with Eddie Dean),. Ralph Stanley still lives near the spot where he was born in a mountainous area, tucked-away in a corner near the rugged Virginia-Tennessee border. It remains his cherished retreat from the rigors of the road and the 150 plus shows he continues to do each year.
Rolling Stone “The most dangerous seventy-eight-year-old in the biz . . . Ralph Stanley continues to rule American mountain music, playing the bluest grass with the baddest ass.”