Krauss, Union Station coming to Courtenay

Doug Cox is stoked about bringing a performer with 26 Grammy Awards to the Comox Valley.

ALISON KRAUSS and Union Station (including Jerry Douglas at far left and Dan Tyminski at far right) will perform July 7 in a special concert the night before the 2011 Vancouver Island MusicFest begins.

ALISON KRAUSS and Union Station (including Jerry Douglas at far left and Dan Tyminski at far right) will perform July 7 in a special concert the night before the 2011 Vancouver Island MusicFest begins.

Doug Cox is stoked about bringing a performer with 26 Grammy Awards to the Comox Valley.

“She’s probably the biggest current contemporary music person who’s ever played in the Valley,” the Vancouver Island MusicFest artistic director said this week about Alison Krauss, just announced to perform July 7, the night before VIMF begins.

Since signing with Rounder Records at the age of 14 in 1985, Krauss has sold more than 12 million albums and garnered the most Grammys for any female and the third most of any recording artist in Grammy history.

Krauss and her band Union Station, featuring Jerry Douglas, will bring their Paper Airplane Summer Tour 2011 to the Comox Valley as part of an expanded MusicFest offering at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds. 

Already a beloved bluegrass fiddler and exquisite singer, Krauss came to the attention of a much wider audience in 2000 for her contributions to the soundtrack of the surprise hit film O Brother Where Art Thou.

Union Station mandolin player Dan Tyminski really raised his profile by singing lead vocal on Man of Constant Sorrow. That song (which was not sung by George Clooney) elevated bluegrass generally and Tyminski particularly in the public consciousness.

Douglas was already regarded as the best dobro player in the world, so Union Station – with other expert players Ron Block on banjo and guitar and Barry Bales on bass and vocals – were ready to walk through the door O Brother Where Art Thou had opened.

“Well, the movie was the first thing that really changed everything for bluegrassers,” agreed Cox, speaking from Memphis, Tenn., where’s recording a new CD.

“But even bigger than that was the album she did with Robert Plant. That pushed her right over the edge in terms of being known by acoustic music fans to being almost a household name for a lot of people.”

Krauss’ certified-platinum 2007 collaboration with Robert Plant and producer T-Bone Burnett called Raising Sand scored six Grammys, including Album of the Year and Song of the Year.

“She’s got another album coming out soon,” Cox added. “We should hear be hearing it soon.”

Paper Airplane is scheduled for release this spring.

Making the album was a revelatory experience for the band. “Whatever formula we thought there was doesn’t exist,” Krauss acknowledges in comments supplied by VIMF. “It disappeared, especially this last time out. You can’t trust your method; you can’t rely on a method. The only thing you can do is record things that move you — that have a connection with you — and to represent yourself truthfully. Things have to be true that I sing or I can’t do it. Whether I write them or not, they have to be true for me to say it, and for the guys to play it.

“The only recipe is if it feels true, and true may be incredibly sad. But that’s the part that feels good, because it’s truthful. It might not be true for anybody else, but it is for us. That’s the recipe.”

Krauss effortlessly bridges the gap between roots music and country, rock and pop. A highly sought-after collaborator, Krauss has worked with some of the biggest names in popular music, including James Taylor, Phish, Dolly Parton, Yo Yo Ma and Bonnie Raitt.

Booking Alison Krauss and Union Station is significant for MusicFest, Cox feels.

“It means a lot; we’ve been trying to get her for over 10 years. It also means a lot to me personally with the festival because it announces we’ve sort of hit a new level in terms of the respect that we have in the music community.”

Cox said Douglas, who has performed at MusicFest several times, was the crucial link to landing Krauss and the band.

A Thursday pre-MusicFest concert has been discussed for several years, added Cox.

“We’re just trying to make the financial part of the festival healthier by doing that, and I hope it works because if it does it means we get to book another big, big act every year. We’ve got a few people in mind for next year if it works.

“I’m really excited about it. I think the people who come to the festival are going to love it because our campground’s pretty well full on Thursday night anyway.”

Tickets for Alison Krauss and Union Station are only $50 with the purchase of a weekend pass to Vancouver Island MusicFest July 8 to 10. Earlybird passes for VIMF are available only till April 1.  Current weekend pass holders can just bring their ticket into a community outlets to receive the discount. Non-weekend pass holders can pick one up for $65.

Tickets will be on sale today and T