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Out & About: 'A Life of Sorrow …' at Ursula's

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Gary Reid (copy)

Since 2014, Gary Reid has performed his one-man show about the life of Carter Stanley more than 100 times.

Music scholar and musician Gary Reid has dug deep into mountain music legend Carter Stanley’s story and brings it back to a life on Saturday. Reid’s one-man show, “A Life of Sorrow: The Life and Times of Carter Stanley,” is set for Ursula’s Cafe in downtown Roanoke.

Readers might better know Stanley’s brother, the late Ralph Stanley, whose bluegrass and old-time music career included singing “O Death” in the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” movie soundtrack. In decades past, the Southwest Virginia siblings made big noise leading The Stanley Brothers band. Carter Stanley had more than his share of heartache and trouble before his death in 1966.

Reid wrote the book “The Music of the Stanley Brothers” and debuted his “A Life of Sorrow … “ in 2014. Reid, whose resume includes stage training and theater credits, has performed his show more than 100 times at theaters, festivals, libraries and museums in multiple states and Canada. He said via email that he participated in Hollins University’s Playwright’s Lab this summer, where one of the Festival of New Works pieces he encountered was penned by Ami Trowell, a co-founder of Ursula’s.

Ursula’s Cafe is a “pay what you can” lunch spot that serves soups, salads and baked treats to all who need a meal. Part of the café’s community-building mission is also to be a gathering spot, and bookings like “A Life of Sorrow” help bring newcomers to the space.

Reid says he plans to donate a share of his proceeds to the business, and hopes that pre-show publicity will help bring attention to Ursula’s.

— The Roanoke Times



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