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Alison Krauss: the diva who doesn't act like one

South Shore Music Circus, Aug. 17, 2003

By Jeffrey B. Remz

COHASSET, MA. - The leading diva of bluegrass music, Alison Krauss, sure didn't act like one.

Playing a few hours before a very enthusiastic, sold-out crowd, Krauss clearly showed time and again why she is where she is in bluegrass with her great voice often leading the way.

But Krauss is no stage hog when it comes to a concert. As usual, she gave a lot of space and presence to her excellent band, Union Station.

Krauss has long been at the top of the bluegrass heap, mixing traditional sounds with country at times. Drums aren't anathema to Krauss either as ace drummer Larry Atamaniuk played the skins on a number of songs, adding a slightly more powerful musical touch.

What is most obvious about Krauss' talents is the quality of her voice. It's simply angelic, a light, supple instrument that does not engage in histrionics.

It doesn't hurt that Krauss has a bunch of fine songs as well. Of course, she played her hits like "Baby, Now That I've Found You" and "When You Say Nothing At All."

But she mixed it up with instrumentals and songs from throughout her career.

One way in which Krauss did not come off like a diva was attitude. Her stage presence has grown over the years, though she still seems a bit shy being center stage. Krauss can be funny, especially during introductions of her band and particularly upright bassist Barry Bales, a hunting aficionado , but Krauss seems like she's more at home playing 'grass.

And as for the band, Dan Tyminski on acoustic guitar clearly is the focal point. He was the voice behind George Clooney in "O Brother, Where Art Thou? (As Krauss told the crowd, "the man who made Clooney a stud") and sang "Man of Constant Sorrow" plus a few other songs. Tyminski has a full-bodied voice and fills the stage.

Banjo man Ron Block had a few turns at the mic as well, and while not the vocal or physical presence of Tyminski, he also did a good job.

And Jerry Douglas, of course, is a powerhouse on Dobro. He got bluesy with the instrument as well as offering a harder edged acoustic guitar sound. He added color to many songs throughout the evening.

Krauss closed with three gospel songs during her encore, including "Down to the River to Pray" from "Oh Brother." Deep into the concert, it was yet another side of Krauss - spare, simple, singing great. Just like a diva should.

©Country Standard Time • Jeffrey B. Remz, editor & publisher •
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