In the no brainer department, Centre College’s Arts at Norton Center staff chose Alison Krauss and Union Station to open their 2012-2013 concert seres. This is rather like bringing Mitt Romney to Salt Lake hoping for a good reception, or coals to Newcastle for that matter. They don’t call Kentucky the Bluegrass State just because of the grass. I’m just saying. And what a perfect choice it was for a wonderful evening of fun and music in Danville with our good friends the Arnolds.
The story of Alison Krauss is interesting in many ways. Her family comes from Columbus Mississippi, but she was born in the Land of Lincoln and grew up in Champaign. A child star on the fiddle already by 10, playing bluegrass festivals and county fairs, she decided that while classical music was fine (she had had the lessons), that it was bluegrass that really floated her boat. And we are all so glad she did.
While she is only 39, her career has spanned the last 30 of those years and of those 30 she has performed with the cavalcade of all stars known as Union Station for the last 20 some years. She is already tied for the most Grammy nominations by any female artist in history, and much of those have come from her work with Union Station. Of especially note in Union Station are two men— Jerry Douglas, only the most award winning Dobro player on the planet, and Dan Tyminski (famous as the voice of George Clooney singing on O Brother Where Art Thou?) a fine picker, with a perfect Bluegrass voice. The truth about Alison however is that she has more in her quiver than Bluegrass arrows.
Witness, for example, her collaboration with Robert Plant in the Award winning Raising Sand CD. So great is her professionalism, that once that album did so well and there was push to do a second one like it, while she was game to try it, when she wasn’t satisfied with the outcome, it was never released. If you really want to the know the truth about Alison, she’s a Christian girl. Here is a Youtube clip from her singing in a Franklin Tn. church for a memorial service
As for the concert we actually saw, they led off with lots of selections from the most recent album Paper Airplane, sprinkled in various tunes from the Greatest Hits collections (like ‘Baby, Now That I’ve Found You’) and then did various selections from the O Brother soundtrack, indeed many of the Gospel tunes. All of the encores were Gospel bluegrass, straight up. Just fantastic, and moving. One thing you get the sense of with Alison is that it just won’t do to sing like an angel and live like the devil. It just won’t do. So thank you Lord for the gift of Miss Alison and all her country/bluegrass/folk/mountain/gospel grace-filled (and often sad) tunes and those four fellers that really spice up her show.