Dolly Parton's "Pure And Simple" tour hits Pittsburgh tomorrow at Console Energy Center. One of the selling points is her celebrating her simpler and traditional roots, performing with a bare-bones band, free of the overblown visual light shows, smoke bombs and other BS contemporary "country" acts embrace.
Given the choice of having a pig or a banjo, in 1928, 11 years old Ralph Edmund Stanley chose the banjo. American Music was better for it. His passing after a battle with skin cancer wasn't unexpected. His grandson Nathan passed the word on social media some weeks ago. Known for his superb five-string banjo work and eerie, haunting vocals, he was the one of the last major first-generation bluegrass bandleaders still standing. His passing last night at age 89 leaves a permanent void. The survivors are Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman and Bobby Osborne.
With different bluegrass styles abundant nowadays, and many younger players only slightly aware of the music's origins, this punch list offers a bit more insight into a genre with a narrative that's often oversimplied by fans and scholars with preconceptions.
The new inductees for the Country Music Hall of Fame were announced yesterday, two living and one deceased: singer Ronnie Milsap, the youngest member, singer-guitarist Mac Wiseman and singer and master Nashville songsmith Hank Cochran. Cochran died in 2010, but Wiseman and Milsap are still around, Milsap appears at Greensburg's Palace Theater on May 18.
Some country Christmas tunes from the distant past, most not that well-known.
The George Jones biography I'm writing obviously has an ending, but the coda to his life came into focus this week. I knew the simple gravestone there after he died April 26 would be replaced by something more elaborate, but just how elaborate became clear Monday, when his widow Nancy unveiled the George Jones gravesite at Nashville's Woodlawn Cemetery. The Associated Press photo above, taken at the ceremony, shows her seated at the memorial.