Ralph Stanley, whose music is featured in the 2000 film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is here for a concert and screening.


Ralph Stanley has seen "O Brother Where Art Thou?" 100 times by his count.

Tonight will be 101.

"It's a good movie," says the 85-year-old banjo icon, whose music is featured in the 2000 film. "I think it's a good movie all the way through."

So what will he say when he introduces "O Brother" during the screening at the Loft Cinema?

Darned if he knows, he says in his quiet Southern drawl.

"I may make a blunder," he added and chuckled during a phone call from his rural Virginia home. "I'll do my best. I may write up something and read it."

Today is all about the legendary, Grammy-winning, two-halls-of-fame bluegrass artist, who can thank "O Brother" for introducing him to a new generation of fans. Stanley sang his haunting Appalachian dirge "O Death" on the movie's soundtrack and won the Grammy in 2002 for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.

Since then, Stanley's musical fortunes have risen. He does about 80 to 100 shows a year with his Clinch Mountain Boys band.

After tonight's screening, Stanley and the band will play a show at the Rialto Theatre downtown. We chatted with him about the show, his music and the idea of one day retiring.

What can we expect from tonight's show?

"We'll just do a good old-time show. If they've ever seen us before they'll know the style of it. Just do Stanley music, old-time country music."

You've released in the neighborhood of 200 albums. What do you think of your latest, "A Mother's Prayer"?

"It's just like all the rest of them. It's taken off good. I like it and I'm proud of it. Hope to sell a million."

You have pretty much done every conceivable thing you can in your career, including winning the Grammy and being inducted into the Gospel Music and International Bluegrass halls of fame. What's left to do?

"I'd like to be in the Country Hall of Fame. That's all I would want, just so I'd have them all."

With Earl Scruggs' death in March, you are now the last of that generation of bluegrass players.

"I liked Earl and we were good friends. He was one of the best banjo players in the business. We've lost a good man in several ways. ... He and I did similar styles of banjo. He did three fingers but it didn't sound like mine and mine didn't sound like his. Mine is more simpler I'd say."

You've often said your music no longer fits into the country genre. How would you describe your music?

"Old style, doing it the old way, and I don't think anybody in the business sounded the way I did. I brought a completely different style and a completely different sound."

Do you ever contemplate retiring?

"I know I'll have to one day. When the time comes I'll know it. Now I don't know when, but I'll know it some day. The good man upstairs has blessed me and gave me the strength and ambition and power to (continue)."

Do you still have fun performing?

"I wouldn't say it's fun. It's always been a job. It's like you going to school and teaching school all day. It's a job for me and I like to do it. But it's business and it's a job. As long as I stay able and feel like it, it's a good pastime. I hate staying at home and doing nothing."

If you go

• What: Ralph Stanley in Tucson.

• Film screening: Stanley will introduce the film "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" at 6 p.m. today at The Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway.

• Concert: Stanley will perform with the Clinch Mountain Boys band at 8:30 p.m. today at the Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., where .

• Tickets: $8 film; $27 film and concert ticket; $25-$31 concert tickets only. Buy concert tickets at the Rialto, and get tickets for the film at the Loft.