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A 'Handsome' Tribute From Loudon Wainwright

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Loudon Wainwright III with banjo i

Loudon Wainwright III Paula Court hide caption

toggle caption Paula Court
Loudon Wainwright III with banjo

Loudon Wainwright III

Paula Court

The latest project from famed singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III is a double-album tribute to another musician entirely. Called High Wide and Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, it's a celebration of the old-time country banjo player, who died in 1931.

Wainwright and producer Dick Connette dug into Charlie Poole's recordings — and into Kinney Rorrer's biography, Ramblin' Blues — eventually writing nine new songs about the life and times of a man they celebrate as a country-music pioneer.

Wainwright began his own career three decades after Poole's death, making a name for himself in the '60s with humorous and autobiographical songs. In 1972, on his Album III, he scored the Top 40 hit "Dead Skunk," and since then he's recorded 20 albums.

Wainwright co-wrote (with Joe Henry) the music for the film Knocked Up; as an actor, he's appeared in that film and many other movies and TV shows, from three episodes of the 1970s hit M*A*S*H to this summer's family comedy G-Force. His own family is famously musical: Rufus Wainwright and Martha Wainwright, both singer-songwriters, are Wainwright's children with ex-wife Kate McGarrigle, herself a noted folk singer.

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