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Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys 

When: Sat., Jan. 11, 4 & 8 p.m. 2014
Price: $42, $40 for members
In February bluegrass great Ralph Stanley will release Side by Side (Rebel), a vibrant new album cobilled to his son Ralph Stanley II. It’d be silly to call this record a passing of the torch, because no single musician could possibly carry on the legacy of the elder Stanley, the most storied and celebrated living practitioner of bluegrass. But Side by Side does acknowledge that he’s stepping away from the music he’s been playing professionally for 67 of his 86 years (he turns 87 on February 25). These shows are part of what’s being billed as the icon’s farewell tour, which started last October and runs through 2014; given his advanced age, they could be your last chance to see him perform in Chicago. Stanley fils has been a member of the Clinch Mountain Boys since 1995, playing guitar and singing in a clear, full-bodied voice that complements his father’s high-lonesome rasp; on the new record they take turns on lead vocals, juggling new material and canonical country classics by the likes of the Carter Family, Ernest Tubb, and Bill Monroe. There are no surprises or stylistic detours, but at this point no one comes to Stanley for novelty—they come to hear a paragon of bluegrass virtues, soulful and steely. —Peter Margasak


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