Last Thursday night at Concordia Turner Hall I closed my eyes and was instantly transported to 1965, a calliope tooting in the distance, watching the banks of the Mississippi River glide past from a porthole on the S.S. Admiral.
Every Humana Festival has a late night show consisting of short plays with a common theme and featuring members of the Acting Apprentice Company. "That High Lonesome Sound"—this year's show—is all about bluegrass music and the mountain culture that spawned it. And it's a real winner.
In the annals of folk archetypes, "Pretty Polly" is perhaps the most searing, mysterious and infamous song of all. The melody is inexhaustible, the story unforgettable. Vandaveer takes hold of that essence and wrings out the full, threatening power of this ageless murder ballad.