I hate to interrupt those focused on Mel Gibson and Janet Jackson, but this is important. Today is Ralph Stanley's 77th birthday. There is no purer voice in American traditional music, and no career I know of that offers such a blend of old-time, bluegrass, Holyness singing and mountain blues. His banjo covers three-finger and clawhammer styles, and he has a bottomless trunk of old tunes. The good doctor even sounds good in a KKK outfit (for a movie role, of course) and managed to record a duet with Dylan without laughing. His voice was once described as capable of "breaking a mule's heart" (OK, that came from my book, GRASS ROOTS) and his tenor harmonies map out the modal zones of mountain music. He is that rarest of breeds in roots music, a staunch traditionalist with an original, unique artistic vision. Happy Birthday, Ralph.