At 75, Dr. Ralph Stanley is enjoying the most widespread popularity and prosperous times of his career, largely due to a profile raised exponentially by his participation in the O Brother, Where Art T

At 75, Dr. Ralph Stanley is enjoying the most widespread popularity and prosperous times of his career, largely due to a profile raised exponentially by his participation in the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack—and the resulting mainstream appreciation for the roots music and rural authenticity Stanley personifies. This unlikely convergence of newfound hipness came to a head a year ago, with Stanley's annual February performance at L.A.'s bastion of insider cool, McCabe's Guitar Shop. The result shines mightily. Less pretentious even than this venue, Stanley seems nonchalant delivering stylish renditions of such classics as "Orange Blossom Special" and "Sunny Side of the Mountain." Throughout, he remains gracious and witty with his incredible Clinch Mountain outfit, including son Ralph II, who offers stellar vocals on a nifty segue between "Jesus Savior, Pilot Me" and "Pretty Girls, City Lights." All impress, but the main attraction is clearly Stanley Sr., who offers ragged soul on "Man of Constant Sorrow" and a chilling a capella "Oh Death," the latter received in dead silence. As the market becomes rich with Stanley product, we are thankful. Racked by Koch.—RW

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