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A concert tribute to Emmylou Harris

COUNTRY

Various Artists, The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris (Rounder, disc plus DVD).

Let's just call the roll first: Mavis Staples, Steve Earle, Lucinda Williams, Rodney Crowell, Lee Ann Womack, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Vince Gill, Conor Oberst, Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin, Martina McBride, Sheryl Crow, Alison Krauss, and, yes, Kris Kristofferson (not exactly in the best of health; he struggles with lyme disease) showing up to sing "Loving Her Was Easier Than Anything I'll Do Again."

When you've got friends like that and they're all ready to show up at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington for a Tribute Concert/Recording/DVD dedicated to your life and career, you've got a major event by any calibration. As a soloist, collaborator and songwriter, Emmylou Harris has long been a great figure disguised as an ordinary one. To many people, she spent years as just a beauty with a shock of silver hair who shows up now and then to sing harmony for bigger name singers. She is, as all her friends know, a good deal more than that. This is authentic country here --not current pop country bordering on rock and pop sung by guys in big hats and glamorous, drop dead beauties.

That means the house band has standard pedal steel whining and tremolo picking on the mandolin but that's the price you pay to hear (and see on DVD) these people congregating to pay homage to a favorite peer.

3 stars (out of four)

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