Iris Dement Begins “Sing the Delta” Tour
The first three performances of Iris DeMent’s tour to support her first album of originals in sixteen years in three towns I know well, two in Ohio and my own Mountain Stage in Charleston,West Virginia. I will make two of those shows.
The great thing about having a show such as Mountain Stage in your hometown that is somewhat off the beaten path is that a lot of music comes to you, with twenty-six shows a year and usually five acts a show, you don not need to know calculus 130 different musical performances. It was at one of these shows in 1992 that I was first knocked back by Iris DeMent and her independent release, “Infamous Angel” that was picked up by Warner Brothers the following year, and then two more. Plus an album/tour with John Prine and an album of gospel songs remembered from her childhood.
“Sing the Delta” has already gotten a lot of press and Ms. DeMent has already given a bunch of interviews and at least two radio performances, WFUV in New York and World Cafe/WXPN in Philadelphia. (To find links to those excellent pieces just go to her artist page at the NPR Music site.)
In addition to that voice that you could not mistake for anyone else’s, the other striking feature of her music is the piano. Sure, other artists use the pain, sometimes, and other most of the time, but Ms. DeMent’s playing sounds like church music. Even when it questions or rejects the faith upon which it is founded.
A lot has been made of her fabulous new song, ‘The Night I Learned How Not To Pray’ and its summation that prayer did not save the small boy’s life, or as the lyric goes, “God does what he wants to anyway.” Like Lucinda William’s ‘Car Wheel on a Gravel Road,’ the song is full of rich, indelible childhood memories that it’s like a movie you seeing. The images stay with you long after the song is over.