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If Bill Monroe charted the altitudes of mountain music with his lonesome take on bluegrass, then Ralph Stanley and his brother Carter mined the depths of its soul—extracting a darker and dustier ore. Like the Louvins, the Delmores, and the Everlys, the Stanley brothers had eerily similar voices—and they created harmonies that added a chill to already frosty songs about murder, suicide, and the final judgment. With the Clinch Mountain Boys, Carter and Ralph worked the circuit from the ’40s until Carter passed to his reward, in 1966. Within days, Ralph was back on the road, singing with heart enough for two—and a catch in his voice that could burn the mist out of any holler. No wonder T-Bone Burnett set him to record an a cappella rendition of “Oh Death” for the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. Even if you thought you hated bluegrass, you gotta love Ralph, ’cause he’s the real thing, and there ain’t too many of them left. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys play at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $18.50. (703) 549-7500. (Elizabeth McGraw)