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Delta's DeMent set to sing

By JACK W. HILL Special to the Democrat-Gazette

This article was published May 8, 2014 at 2:22 a.m.


Iris DeMent

Arkansas-born singer-songwriter Iris DeMent has found inspiration in her native land of late, despite having moved away at a young age, never again to live anywhere closer than Kansas City. She's making her second Little Rock appearance in nine months -- and it's also her second time to play at a new venue in town.

On Sept. 24, DeMent played at the new South on Main restaurant and club, familiar ground for her, as she had played there when it was the original home of Juanita's back in the last century. This time she's performing at 7 p.m. Saturday at the new Ron Robinson Theater.

Born in Paragould in 1961, DeMent -- whose singing style can be described as a blend of country, bluegrass, folk, gospel and even hillbilly -- is touring more extensively than perhaps ever before, thanks to the positive reception she has gotten from her most recent album, Sing the Delta, released in October 2012. The songs were inspired, at least partially, by the 2011 death of her mother and the resulting journey from Iowa to take her mother home for burial in northeast Arkansas.

It had been 16 years since DeMent had written any songs, then her muse returned as she grieved for her mother. As DeMent explains on her website, "I didn't know when or if I'd make another record. I gave up on trying to steer it or force it and decided to just make myself available in my heart and mind as much as I could and leave the rest up to fate. ... Some of these songs I've had around awhile but I needed time to grow into them. I guess you could say I just wasn't ready to deliver them in the way that they deserved. I'm glad I waited. It's taught me to surrender ... to trust the natural flow and order of things and not worry about it."

It wasn't that DeMent had nothing else to occupy her time. She married another singer-songwriter, Greg Brown, in November 2002, after earlier that year having sung one of his songs, "The Train Carrying Jimmie Rodgers Home," on Going Driftless: An Artist's Tribute to Greg Brown (as sung by 16 female artists). Two years after they married, they adopted Dasha, a 5-year old Serbian girl. The family lives in southeastern Iowa, outside Iowa City, home to the University of Iowa.

DeMent began her recording career with Infamous Angel in 1992 and followed up at two-year intervals with My Life and The Way I Should, before releasing Lifeline, an album of mostly gospel songs in 2004.

In Little Rock this weekend, DeMent will sing and play acoustic guitar and piano, accompanied by Jon Graboff on electric guitar and mandolin and Bryan Owings on drums.

Iris DeMent

7 p.m. Saturday, Ron Robinson Theater, 100 River Market Ave., Little Rock Admission: $30 (501) 320-5728

Weekend on 05/08/2014

Print Headline: Delta’s DeMent set to sing


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