Alison Krauss says something - quite a lot actually - in concert
Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, Houston, TX, Jan. 27, 2000
By Brian Wahlert
HOUSTON - Bluegrass singer and fiddler Alison Krauss may be best known to country fans as the honey-sweet-voiced singer who remade Keith Whitley's "When You Say Nothing at All." That song helped drive her 1995 album "Now That I've Found You: A Collection" to number two on the country chart and even the top 10 of the pop chart.
Some may fail to realize, however, that Krauss' amazing talent on the fiddle is what first brought her to the attention of the bluegrass world. At 28, she is the undisputed queen of bluegrass.
As if that weren't enough, her band Union Station is one of the best in bluegrass, and Jerry Douglas is the greatest dobro player around, so it was with great anticipation that the 2,000 or so in attendance at Houston's intimate Aerial Theater awaited Krauss' performance.
"It Don't Matter Now" started the night off with melodious guitar playing and Krauss' dulcet singing, which even induced tears from some in the crowd who have loved her music for over a decade.
The audience got its first taste of Krauss' fiddle playing on "Forget About It," the title song from her most recent album. And then she and her band floored the crowd with their gorgeous harmonies on "It Wouldn't Have Made Any Difference."
Those three songs were just the beginning of a wonderful evening. Song after song, Krauss and her band continued to amaze with their singing and near-perfect playing. They went through old favorites, like "Every Time You Say Goodbye," "I've Got That Old Feeling" and newer songs, too, like a remake of Shenandoah's "Ghost in This House."
They played several instrumentals, where the band members traded off hot solos to the delight of the crowd. For an all-too-brief minute or two, Krauss played a fiddle solo for the entire length of a Don Rich-written song.
About halfway through, the band left the stage, and Jerry Douglas got to play one song solo. It was a medley of an Irish song and a Japanese song, and it started slowly but gradually got faster and faster until no one thought Douglas' hands could move any faster - and then it got faster still. Douglas is an amazing player who hasn't gotten the recognition he deserves, probably because he plays an under-appreciated instrument.
Dan Tyminski, who played in the Lonesome River Band before joining Union Station, sang lead on several songs and backup on many others in his beautiful tenor voice. Ron Block added hot banjo picking and pretty guitar leads.
Krauss and her band seem to have a wonderful time together, laughing and joking around on stage. In introducing each member of the band, she told embarrassing stories on topics like bassist Barry Bales' dog Booger vomiting in his truck. Mimicking Bales, Krauss said in a very exaggerated drawl, "It looked like a big bowl of oatmeal with a piece of rawhide in it."
Towards the end of the show, Krauss performed her gorgeous rendition of "When You Say Nothing at All," and then she closed the show with the bluesy Little Feat song "Oh, Atlanta." The band came back for one encore of the spiritual "In the Palm of Your Hand."
There's nothing quite like hearing two hours of music, perfectly sung and played by some of the world's most talented artists. Sadly, Krauss has fallen out of the national spotlight somewhat since "When You Say Nothing at All," choosing to focus on bluegrass music and eschew crossover recognition.
Nevertheless, a Krauss concert is jam-packed with underappreciated gems that are better written and far better played and sung than 99 percent of the music on country radio today.