CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The last time Alison Krauss was scheduled to perform in Charleston, the show was canceled because of poor ticket sales.
Such wasn't the case Thursday, when Krauss and her band Union Station played to a near-sellout crowd at Charleston's Municipal Auditorium.
Krauss, 39, opened the show with "Paper Airplane," the title track of her newest CD. She then played several other tunes from the introspective disc to an appreciative but sedate crowd.
It was only when Krauss delved into more familiar territory -- beginning with the lilting "Let Me Touch You For A While" -- that the audience perked up. Other crowd favorites of the evening included Alison's familiar folksy arrangement of the Motown standard "Now That I've Found You," a fairly faithful rendition of the bluegrass tune "Sawin' on the Strings," Dan Tyminski's rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow" from the "O Brother Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, and a surprisingly effective bluegrass ballad treatment of the 1980s Paul McCartney tune, "No More Lonely Nights."
Krauss has been on the music scene for so long, it's sometimes hard to believe she's only 39. But Krauss started young, first recording at age 14 and releasing her first album with Union Station at 16.
Her skill as an instrumentalist is also sometimes overlooked. Krauss was something of a child prodigy, studying classical violin at age 5 before switching to bluegrass, and winning the Walnut Valley Festival Fiddle Championship at 13.
Krauss takes tasteful and accomplished fiddle breaks during tunes, often hanging out to let others take the lead and never hogging the spotlight, either lyrically or instrumentally. She also spends a lot of time playing viola, perhaps finding its more raspy timbre better suited to her breathy vocal style.
During most of her shows, Krauss also gives an extended solo slot to world-renowned dobro player Jerry Douglas. Douglas' performance Thursday was especially significant, as his Braxton County parents were in the audience. Although born in Ohio, Douglas' parents and several relatives live in West Virginia.