What a difference a year can make.
Last summer, Alison Krauss and Union Station opened a three-act bill at The Gorge headlined by Dwight Yoakum.
The big crowd’s response to Krauss’ short but excellent bluegrass set was, in a word, restrained. Though she’s been a big star in bluegrass circles for several years, Krauss had yet to make an impression on the wider country audience.
But one record changed all that. When Krauss was invited to contribute a song to a Keith Whitley tribute record, she chose Whitley’s wistful “When You Say Nothing At All” and watched as Bang Records turned it into a major country hit.
Now, Krauss has enough firepower to headline her own shows, as she will Saturday night at The Festival at Sandpoint.
As they proved the night they opened for Yoakum, Alison Krauss and Union Station are nothing short of remarkable. A prodigious fiddle player and possessor of a pure country soprano, Krauss is the youngest person ever to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry. She and Union Station are two-time Grammy winners in the bluegrass category and last year she pulled down three nominations: one for her collaboration with the Cox Family on the gospel record “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow,” one for her collaboration with Kathy Mattea and Suzy Boguss on “Teach Your Children Well” from the “Red Hot + Country” collection, and one for “When You Say Nothing At All.”
Some people fear Krauss’ flirtation with success will turn her head away from the pure bluegrass music that she has championed, and indeed, there are signs that it has. Though it seems as traditional as “Lonesome Heartsick Blues” up against most of today’s country radio fare, “When You Say Nothing At All” has a patina that moves her closer to the heart of Nashville.
xxxx ALISON KRAUSS AND UNION STATION Location and time: Memorial Field, Sandpoint, 7:30 p.m. Saturday Tickets: $29.50 reserved, $21 general admission, $10.75 juniors