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NOVEMBER 15

Overly respectful as usual, country music pundits have taken Bill Monroe’s death as a signal to crown Del McCoury the new king of bluegrass. But as anyone knows who listened to Eddie Stubbs’ post-mortem tribute (or heard Monroe when he played down on the Mall a few years back), the Father of Bluegrass’ autumn years weren’t exactly golden ones. 1996’s McCoury coronation is purely ceremonial, mere confirmation that he has long been more fit to rule. That a celebration is called for, though, is assured by The Cold Hard Facts, a searing blast from the greatest voice in bluegrass. Backed by a group of crack instrumentalists, including sons Rob and Ronnie and producer/dobroist par excellence Jerry Douglas, who never let chops get the better of sense, McCoury obliterates any recollection of the original versions of the songs he idiosyncratically selects, from Jimmy C. Newman’s “Blue Darlin’” and Ray Price’s “I’ll Be There” to Tom Petty’s “Love Is a Long Road” and Robert Cray’s “Smoking Gun.” McCoury’s keen, pinched tenor, perfectly suited to both lead and harmony lines, sounds at once overdriven and hushed, enshrining the contradictory flamboyance and reticence that uneasily coincide in the Southern soul—even a Southern soul originally from York County, Pa. The Appalachians reach up there, too. At 8 p.m. at the Barns of Wolf Trap, 1624 Trap Rd., Vienna. $14. (703) 938-2404. (Glenn Dixon)