While the lasting image from the Coen brothers' 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? may be a mustachioed, overall-clad, hicked-up George Clooney lip-synching "Man of Constant Sorrow," the film's multi-platinum soundtrack reignited interest in America's earliest roots music. It was inevitable that musicians devoted to Americana would look beyond such popular 20th-century touchstones as Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Jimmie Rodgers for inspiration, and sparse combos such as the Dirt Daubers are putting a decidedly non-Clooney face on the burgeoning alt-country subgenre "old-time music." Instead of relying on the standard acoustic guitar, upright bass, and lap steel format of 1940s-era country and folk music, the Dirt Daubers, a trio led by Legendary Shack Shakers founder J.D. Wilkes, go beyond old-school, drawing upon pre-Civil War Appalachian folk music and stripping things down to simply a banjo, a mandolin, a stand-up bass, and a harmonica. The band's recent sophomore disc, Wake Up, Sinners, features tunes that sound as though they might have been written by 19th-century songsmith Stephen "The Father of American Music" Foster (of "Oh! Susannah" and "Camptown Races" fame), but with a decidedly DIY bent. And if that doesn't give the Dirt Daubers some old-time cred, the band actually hails from Paducah, Kentucky, which is smack dab in the heart of Appalachia.
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