Over the past 15 years, contemporary music lovers of every kind have come to the same realization that bluegrass fans have shared for years. And that is that Ralph Stanley is a musical legend and a national treasure.
We’ve known it since he started performing with his brother, Carter, in the 1940s on through to today. But even after more than five decades recording and touring, much of the rest of the world didn’t catch on until Ralph’s voice leapt off movie screens singing O Death in a pivotal scene in the Coen Brothers’ 2000 hit film, O Brother, Where Art Thou.
Since that time, he has been treated appropiately as American music royalty, with awards and honors galore coming his way. He receives the same treatment from his fellow artists, with country and pop stars lining up for a chance to sing with him, as we see with the most recent Ralph Stanley project for Cracker Barrel, Man Of Constant Sorrow. Robert Plant, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lee Ann Womack, Josh Turner, Dierks Bentley, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, and Gillian Welch and David Rawlings all shared the mic with Ralph on a set of Stanley classics.
Now comes word that country star T Graham Brown will be touring with both Ralph and his grandson Nathan Stanley this summer. Shows have been scheduled for May 16 at the Mill Town Music Hall in Bremen, GA, and August 15 at The Lincoln Theatre in Marion, VA. Another show with Nathan and T Graham is set for June 28 at the Beckman Performing and Fine Arts Center in Memphis, TN. Stanley’s band, The Clinch Mountain Boys, will provide accompaniment for all these concerts.
It appears that additional dates are still being added, so perhaps there will be a show playing near you.
The good Dr. Stanley, so honorarily dubbed by both Lincoln Memorial and Yale Universities, is now 88 years of age. Smart money suggests you not delay in catching him live on stage.