Arts + Culture

UCLA Live Presents Bluegrass Legend Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys in a Double Bill With Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum Feb. 17

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UCLA Live presents bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley, widelyconsidered the greatest living icon of traditional Appalachian music,performing with his long-time band, The Clinch Mountain Boys, on Friday, Feb.17. Opening this lively double bill is fiddler Laurie Lewis, founder of theacclaimed Grant Streetband, with mandolinist Tom Rozum and the Guest House Band. The concert beginsat 8 p.m. at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus. The program runs approximately twohours and 30 minutes. There will be one intermission. For tickets, call(310) 825‑2101, visit http://www.uclalive.org/or contact Ticketmaster.

Stanley,now 78 years old, headlines this evening of pure bluegrass nirvana. He has beenperforming professionally since he and his older brother, Carter, formed a bandin their native southwestern Virginiain 1946. But Ralph Stanley burst into broad public acclaim in 2001 afterwinning a Best Country Male Vocalist Grammy for his performance on theblockbuster film soundtrack "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" He will perform onvocals and banjo, with Clinch Mountain members JamesAlan Shelton on lead guitar; Jack Cooke, bass; son Ralph Stanley II (also knownas "Two") on rhythm guitar; Steve Sparkman, banjo; Dewey Brown, fiddle; andgrandson Nathan Stanley on mandolin.

The concert also features the magnificent acoustic duo ofsinger and fiddler Laurie Lewis, known for her founding work on the Grant Street stringband and the Good Ol' Persons, with frequent collaborator and former Grant Streetmember, Tom Rozum, on mandolin and other strings. Todd Phillip plays bass;Craig Smith, banjo; and Scott Huffman performs on guitar.

Regarded as the unrivalled patriarch of bluegrass music, Ralph Stanley helped bring the mountainstyle of bluegrass to mainstream audiences with his distinctive voice, rawemotion and the three-fingered banjo technique he learned from his mother.Already a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, inspiring such musicians asDwight Yoakam and Emmylou Harris, Stanley was a legend even before the "RalphStanley for President" bumper stickers began popping up in the late 1970s andearly 1980s. One of his proudest achievements is his 1976 honorary doctorate inmusic from Lincoln Memorial University,which led to his "Dr. Stanley" moniker. More than that, he has come tosymbolize the timelessness and durability of old-time music and the Appalachianregion.

Stanley's voice harkens to a darker time. Itsstark emotional urgency is rooted in an era when pain was the common coin oflife. This terse, forlorn sound is the bedrock of Stanley's inimitable style. While his voicemay have that ancient quality, Stanleytours and performs with the vigor and lan of a modern rock star.

After years of playing for hardcore bluegrass fans, an actakin to a mountain preacher sermonizing to the converted, Stanley stepped intoa Nashville recording studio early in 2000 to cut one song for what could havebeen part of an obscure soundtrack for an obscure movie. The phenomenal successof the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack was a major factor in the surgeof popularity in old-time mountain music. The album topped the country and popcharts, beat out U2 for the Album of the Year Grammy, and earned Stanley his first Grammyafter more than 50 years in music.

Stanley played professionally with his olderbrother until Carter died at age 41 in 1966. By that time, The Stanley Brotherswith The Clinch Mountain Boys had become one of the most celebrated bluegrassgroups in the world, rivaling such titans as Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs.After struggling with Carter's death, Stanleyshifted the band's musical emphasis from hard-driving bluegrass to an older,sadder, less adorned mountain style. His distinctive "high lonesome" vocalshelped set his work apart from that of other bluegrass groups and brought themusic to a different plane.

As a bandleader, Stanleynourished such young and promising talents as Ricky Skaggs, Keith Whitley,Larry Sparks and Charlie Sizemore, who all graduated to distinguished solocareers. So respected is he as a musical stylist that dozens of other majorartists have recorded duets with him, among them Bob Dylan, George Jones, VinceGill, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Dolly Parton, Joan Baez, Pam Tillis andPorter Wagoner.

After working with Stanleyon the "O Brother" soundtrack, acclaimed producer T Bone Burnett was so takenby his sound that he signed him as the flagship artist of his new label,DMZ/Columbia. In 2002, Burnett produced the critically acclaimed album "RalphStanley," a collection of ancient and old-time songs from England and Appalachia.The album immediately leaped into Billboard's bestseller list and stayed therefor weeks.

While he has long been revered by folk, bluegrass andcountry music enthusiasts, Stanleyis now commanding broad public honors. In 2003, he shared a Grammy for BestBluegrass Album with his friend Jim Lauderdale. The year before, in addition to"O Brother's" Album of the Year, he won a Grammy for Best Country Male VocalistPerformance (beating out Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Tim McGraw, Lyle Lovettand Ryan Adams). In 2001, he was the subject of an admiring profile in The NewYorker, written by novelist David Gates, who traveled with Stanley for months gathering material. He isalso the central figure in the D.A. Pennebaker/Chris Hegedus' 2000 documentary,"Down From the Mountain," and was the closing act for the accompanying 2002highly popular concert tour.

In January 2000, Stanleybecame the first artist of the new millennium to be inducted into the historicGrand Ole Opry. He holds the Living Legend award from the Library of Congressand was the first recipient of the Traditional American Music award from theNational Endowment for the Humanities. The Virginia Press Association namedStanley "Virginian of the Year" in March 2004, an honor that placed him in thecompany of novelist William Styron, Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham,and fellow musicians June Carter Cash and Bruce Hornsby.

"Well, it's true these awards have been coming pretty fast,"said the reticent, plainspoken Stanley,"but I enjoy every one of them."

Of his Best Country Male Vocalist Grammy, he noted, "I was alittle surprised, but that was the one I really hoped to win. It just felt sogood I can't hardly tell you."

He acknowledged that there are few major recognitions hestill aspires to, but added, "Well, there is the Country Music Hall of Fame.I'd like that to happen some day."

Ralph Stanley still lives near Stratton, Va.,a mountainous, tucked-away corner near the rugged Virginia-Tennessee border,where he was born in 1927. It remains his cherished retreat from the rigors ofthe road and the 150-plus shows he continues to do each year.

Since forming a musical partnership in 1986, when Tom Rozum first joined Laurie Lewis's acclaimed band, Grant Street, Rozumand Lewis have recorded 12 albums and performed around the globe. TheseGrammy-nominated artists (for their 1995 album, "The Oak and the Laurel") arewidely regarded as among the leading lights of modern bluegrass and are highlyprized by their peers as sidemen and producers.

International Bluegrass Music Association executive directorDan Hays called Lewis "one of the preeminent bluegrass and Americana artists of our time."

Acclaimed musician Sam Bush puts it more simply, calling her"a great singer, terrific fiddle player, fine songwriter, and one very goodband leader."

Lewis also performed on both the Grammy Award–winning, 1997International Bluegrass Music Association album of the year, "True Life Blues:The Songs of Bill Monroe," and the Grammy-nominated Ralph Stanley and Friends'release, "Clinch Mountain Country."

New England native Tom Rozum "possesses an earnest tenor voice in thevein of contemporary bluegrass great Tim O'Brien, and peels off rhythmicallycrisp licks on mandolin and guitar," wrote music critic Derk Richardson.

In 1998, Rozum released hisdebut solo album, "Jubilee on Dog Boy Records," which amazon.com called,"Without reservation, one of 1998's most rewarding acoustic releases."

In 2004, Lewis and Rozumreleased their third duo album, "Guest House" (their first for High ToneRecords), a characteristically versatile and engaging offering of love songs,laments, social commentary and freewheeling fun in the spirit of old-timemusic. Lewis and Rozum pay homage to such eminent influences as Woody Guthrie,Hazel Dickens, Grandpa Jones and the inimitable Bill Monroe, adding their owndistinctive touches to traditional favorites as well as performing several ofLewis' excellent compositions.

Tickets for Ralph Stanleyand The Clinch Mountain Boys, Laurie Lewis and Tom Rozum may be purchased $45,$35 and $25. They may be purchased by logging on to http://www.uclalive.org/,by calling (310) 825‑2101, by visiting the UCLA Central TicketOffice located at the southwest corner of the James West Alumni Center orthrough Ticketmaster. Please call for more information. UCLA students maypurchase tickets in advance for $15. Student rush tickets at the same price,subject to availability, are offered to all students with a valid ID one hourprior to show time.

UCLA Live is aninternationally acclaimed producer and presenter of music, dance, theater andspoken word, bringing hundreds of outstanding and provocative artists to Los Angeles each year.

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