Friday, June 24, 2016

Ralph Stanley - "O Death" (spotlight)

Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley died on Thursday.  We've seen him twice: 2005 at the Ferguson Center in Newport News, and in 2013 at the Jewish Mother in Va Beach (the picture to the left is from that performance).  I was happy to see him both times, but he was a lot stronger in the 2005 performance (even briefly playing banjo).

The obvious tribute for him is his version of the traditional song "O Death".  Although he had recorded the song several times before (for example, on 1977's "Clinch Mountain Gospel"), it was his 2011 acapella version on the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack that earned him a Grammy and cross-over success.

"O Death": 2000 "O Brother" version, 1977 (?) studio version, there are many live versions on line, but this 2009 (?) version is particularly good.

On a more positive note, here's 1961's "Finger Poppin' Time", from "The Stanley's In Person", which features James Brown and the Famous Flames "poppin'" their fingers.

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