Shrieks from the audience at a bluegrass concert seem out of place: With music so precise, it's surprising when members of the crowd act as if they're attending a wrestling match. Yet Sunday night at the Patriot Center, Alison Krauss and Union Station received several such hollers, aimed at Dobro player Jerry Douglas. Midway through the evening, a fan shouted out, "Jerry, you can have my girlfriend's baby!" After a shocked reaction, Douglas politely replied, "I don't think I could do that, but thanks anyway!"
Unfortunately Krauss did little to discourage such comments; her own unfocused stage banter rarely received more than modest laughter. Her introduction of upright-bass player Barry Bales disintegrated into a pointless Q-and-A about his favorite Virginia bluegrass bands and penchant for hunting. But when Krauss opened her mouth to sing, the audience fell silent, listening intently to her powerful soprano.
Although Krauss did most of the speaking, the rest of Union Station were equally skilled performers. Guitarists Dan Tyminski and Ron Block sang lead vocals on several numbers, and Douglas performed a solo medley on Dobro. But the evening's most heartfelt moments came during the encore. Krauss paired an a cappella version of the traditional "Down in the River to Pray" with the poignant Block composition "A Living Prayer," her haunting voice soaring high without the distraction of unnecessary chatter.
-- Catherine P. Lewis