Ralph Stanley, 9/13 at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts | Bleader

Ralph Stanley, 9/13 at the Schaumburg Prairie Center for the Arts

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One of the true legends of bluegrass, Ralph Stanley, plays Schaumburg on Sunday (which would make a nice followup to Junior Brown at FitzGerald's on Saturday). One of the reasons I love him is that he doesn't put on airs: not long after O Brother, Where Art Thou? came out, shortly after being profiled in the New Yorker and shortly before playing The Late Show with David Letterman, I was lucky enough to see him - headlining a Masons benefit concert at a high-school auditorium in Martinsville, Virginia (Stanley is a high-level Mason). The opener was a very-semi-pro bluegrass band led by one of the local Masons. In his eighth decade, he's still got one of the great voices in American music.

Here's Stanley singing "O Death" in Clintwood, Virginia, near the grave of his brother Carter Stanley, the other half of the legendary Stanley Brothers. More Ralph Stanley after the jump, including a duet with the late, great Keith Whitley.

There's a lot more great non-embeddable Stanley/Whitley at YouTube. Whitley's one of the real tragic figures in country music.

Ralph Stanley with Patty Loveless doing "Pretty Polly":

With Ricky Skaggs; (Stanley and Dwight Yokam is pretty awesome too):

Ralph and Carter Stanley:

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