Hot Damn, It’s the Soggy Bottom Boys!

First, Alison Krauss & Union Station: Live is everything you would expect from the first live album from such a fine band. Recorded in Kentucky, the birthplace of Bluegrass, the album alternates slow ballads–featuring Alison Krauss’s distinctive, beautiful voice–with rollicking, foot-stomping, quick-pickin’ bluegrass numbers. It’s a real treat, all the way through the 25-song collection. It’s also very reasonably priced for an album of that length, and it includes most of the band’s “hits.” So, if you’re interested in getting a first album by Alison Krauss & Union Station, this should be one of your top choices.

Now, for the fun surprise of the album (at least for me). In the Coen brothers’ filmed tribute to southern roots music, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Alison Krauss’s haunting voice is immediately recognizable as one of the tempting sirens (Gillian Welch and Emmylou Harris are the other two) in “Didn’t Leave Nobody But The Baby,” as one half of the vocals (Gillian Welch is the other half) in “I’ll Fly Away,” and as the lead vocal on the beautiful rendition of “Down in the River to Pray.”

Less recognizable in that film, however, are the mysterious voices and musicians that make up the Soggy Bottom Boys, whose “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” serves as leitmotif for the whole movie. Anyway, a few tracks into disc 2 of Alison Krauss & Union Station: Live, I felt the thrilling surprise of the yokel in O Brother who exclaims “Hot damn, it’s the Soggy Bottom Boys!” as they launch into their hit single to thunderous applause. Sure enough, the mouthpiece for George Clooney is none other than Dan Tyminski, guitarist and vocalist for Union Station, and their live rendition of “I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” is clearly a Soggy Bottom Boys performance. Nice.

Incidentally, for all you O Brother fans, “Down to the River to Pray” is also on the album.