O Brother, Where Are We?

New outtakes collection spotlights the visionary stoner-bluegrass of John Hartford's Aereo-Plain

John Hartford, center, is best remembered for "Gentle on My Mind," but Aereo-Plain is his most enduring work.
John Hartford, center, is best remembered for "Gentle on My Mind," but Aereo-Plain is his most enduring work.
From left, John Hartford, Norman Blake and Tut Taylor.
From left, John Hartford, Norman Blake and Tut Taylor.

The Aereo-Plain band lasted only a year, with Taylor and Hartford having little contact in the years prior to Hartford's death on June 4, 2001. "I never followed his career real close, but we'd run into each other on the road on occasion. When I'd go back to Nashville, sometimes I'd drop by and see him and we'd pick a little bit. He was always playing something, if only drumming his knuckles on a desk or whatever. He had more rhythm than probably anyone I've ever known. He just exuded it, and it comes across on the recordings. That song 'Steam Powered Aereo Plane' is a good example. And, you know, a lot of people still ask me to play it even after all these years."

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