Ralph Stanley – the Good Doctor, the Dean of Mountain Music, and one of the few survivors from the earliest days of bluegrass music – is the subject of a feature in the current (January/February) edition of Garden & Gun magazine.
G&G is a journal of southern food, sport and culture, aimed at the outdoorsy set among the upper crust of ladies and gentlemen of the southern US. A lot of regular folks read it as well, for the recipes and essays, and the first rate photography.
The Stanley piece, by Dean King, seems designed as an introduction for folks unfamiliar with his music, and his place in the hierarchy of southern music.
Stanley is eighty-five now, and he has put out some two hundred albums. His high lonesome tenor, exuding world-weariness, has been called “one of the most expressive voices in the history of American song.” It’s also one of the most recorded. Should a sculptor ever decide to carve a Mount Rushmore of bluegrass, Stanley will be a shoo-in. But mainstream celebrity did not come to him until he was in his seventies, following the release of the Coen brothers’ Depression-era, Odyssey-inspired movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? in 2000. The film’s inspired sound track, produced by T Bone Burnett, went multiplatinum, and Stanley’s solo a cappella rendition of the traditional Appalachian lament “O Death” stole the show, winning him a Grammy for best male country vocal performance.
The full article is available online.