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Music / Alison Krauss & Union Station

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From left to right: Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Ron Block, Dan Tyminski, and Barry Bales.

Alison Krauss & Union Station (sometimes abbreviated AKUS) are a contemporary bluegrass band who are one of the best-known and most popular groups in the genre. Fronted by singer-fiddler Alison Krauss and propelled by her distinctive voice (breathy on lower notes, with a pure, clear soprano in higher registers), the group has won 27 Grammys and almost 30 various other awards. They started out playing mostly traditional bluegrass, but by the time of their first major label release Two Highways, they had begun to branch out, recording a bluegrass version of The Allman Brothers Band song "Midnight Rider". As their career progressed, the band continued to explore other forms of music, recording bluegrass covers of everything from 1970s British soul songs ("Baby, Now That I've Found You"), to classic Disney standards ("Baby Mine").

They first gained national attention with a cover of the late Keith Whitley's signature song "When You Say Nothing At All", which hit #3 on the Billboard Country Music chart in 1994. The group was also one of the only bands (the most notable other example being Splendid) to have their music featured in multiple episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayernote  It was immediately followed by Krauss guesting on Shenandoah's single "Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart".

The band underwent numerous personnel changes in its early years, but the current lineup has been together since 1997's So Long So Wrong, with Ron Block and Barry Bales having been around even before that, since 1992. In addition to the group's releases together, guitarist Dan Tyminski provided the singing voice for George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, while Jerry Douglas has released more albums on his own than Union Station as a group.

Krauss got several more guest singles outside the band, including Kenny Rogers' 2000 hit "Buy Me a Rose" (which also featured Billy Dean) and Brad Paisley's 2004 hit "Whiskey Lullaby".

Principal Members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic)

  • Larry Atamanuik - drums, percussion (1987–present)
  • Barry Bales - bass (1990–present)
  • Ron Block - guitar, banjo (1991–present)
  • John R. Bowman - guitar (1993–1994)
  • Alison Brown - guitar, banjo (1987–1991)
  • Dave Denman - vocals, guitar (1987–1992)
  • Jerry Douglas - dobro (1998–present)
  • Mike Harman - banjo, vocals (1987–1992)
  • Alison Krauss - lead vocals, piano, fiddle (1987–present)
  • Viktor Krauss - bass (1989–1990)
  • John Pennell - bass (1987–1989)
  • Tim Stafford - guitar, mandolin (1990–1992)
  • Adam Steffey - mandolin (1990–1998)
  • Dan Tyminski - vocals, guitar, mandolin (1992–1993, 1994–present)
  • Jeff White - guitar, vocals (1987–1990)


  • Different Strokes (1985): Alison's debut album, recorded when she was 14, a collection of traditional bluegrass songs.
  • Two Highways (1989): The first album credited to Alison Krauss & Union Station.
  • Every Time You Say Goodbye (1992): The band's first album to win a Grammy.
  • So Long So Wrong (1997): The first album with the full current lineup, it won 3 Grammys and was the band's highest-charting album to that point at #4.
  • Forget About It (1999): Alison's last solo album to date, though Union Station played on it.
  • New Favorite (2001): Came out the same year as O Brother Where Art Thou and the related soundtrack, on which several members of the group played. Also featured a cover of the Dan Fogelberg song "Stars".
  • Lonely Runs Both Ways (2004): Became the group's highest charting album on the full Billboard chart (#29), and featured a cover of Woody Guthrie's "Pastures of Plenty". After this record's tour, the group took an extended hiatus so the band members could focus on their solo careers and families.
  • Paper Airplane (2011): The group's most recent album, released after a seven-year hiatus. It became their first record to debut at #1 on the Billboard Country Chart, and won yet another Grammy.

Tropes present:

  • Artist and the Band: Krauss is the lead singer and plays fiddle. The Country Music Association has nominated both Krauss for the solo Female Vocalist of the Year award and Alison Krauss & Union Station for Vocal Group of the Year in the same year.
  • Bittersweet Ending: How a good many of their love songs end.
  • Cover Version: Pretty much at least once an album, and as noted above, their most successful song was a cover of another artist's most successful song.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Not so much weirdness per se, but their first releases were almost nothing but traditional bluegrass songs and bluegrass-style. Around the time of Two Highways they started to branch out.
  • Instrumentals: Goes without saying. They are a bluegrass band.
  • Lesser Star: Averted. Alison is the lead singer, but Dan and Ron have also sung lead on various tracks.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: The current band has been together for 25 years, but Barry has been a member for 32 years, Ron for 31, and Dan for 28.
  • Record Producer: An in-house version, Alison and the band have produced their own records since Every Time You Say Goodbye.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "If I Didn't Know Any Better."
    Your heart is pullin'
    If I didn't know any better, I'd be fallin'
    Deeper and deeper, it's true
    I'd hear it callin'
    If I didn't know any better
    And I'd be in love with you
  • Vocal Tag Team: When backing Alison, Dan sings the low tenor harmonies, while Ron sings high tenor. They've also both sung lead on several tracks.

Alternative Title(s): Alison Krauss