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‘Oh, Brother’ singer to perform in Grass Valley

Pam Jung

Sunday, Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Hall will resound to some of the best in bluegrass when Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, along with Laurie Lewis, Tom Rozum, and the Guest House Band, start their singin’ and pickin’ at 8 p.m.

If you saw “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou” and remember that great song, “Oh Death,” its composer and singer is the same Ralph Stanley, who was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame 14 years ago. Now, just short of 79 years old, and only six months after triple bypass surgery, his words in that song, “won’t you spare me for another year,” have seemingly come true.

It is said Stanley helped found the bluegrass movement – along with contemporary Bill Monroe – when he and his brother Carter started recording as The Stanley Brothers in the mid-1940s.

Born in rural Virginia in 1927, Stanley learned the claw-hammer style of banjo picking from his mother. The Clinch Mountain Boys became part of the Stanley Brothers act in 1946. The band later included other notable musicians, such as Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley.

Awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Lincoln Memorial University in Tennessee, he has been popularly known as Dr. Ralph Stanley ever since.

Laurie Lewis is fast becoming a legend in her own right in the world of modern bluegrass, folk and acoustic music. As Nevada County’s very own American folk icon Utah Phillips put it, “Whatever country music is supposed to be, she’s at the center of it.”

Tickets for $25 to KVMR members or $30 general are available at the KVMR business office in Nevada City (or online at kvmr.org); in Grass Valley at BriarPatch Community Market and Record Connection; and in Auburn at Cherry Records. Call KVMR at 265-9073 for more information. The hall is located at 255 South Auburn St.

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