Iris Dement looked out and smiled at the audience, which filled the Old Town School of Folk Music's Maurer Auditorium. "You know my music," she said. "You know what you're in for." The audience laughed and applauded. And Iris did what she does best. She sang and played guitar and piano and entertained for 90 minutes.
Dement's hillbilly twang tells us she has never left the Arkansas roots of her childhood. Her music is steeped in traditional country music with gospel, folk, and blues mixed in. Sunday evening, she played them all. She was joined onstage by bassist Liz Draper for the entire set and for a few songs by Ana Egge, a sweet-voiced songwriter who also served as the night's opening act.
Known for her longtime collaboration with the late Chicagoan John Prine, Dement delighted the crowd when she sang one of his songs.
Iris still seems to enjoy performing, and her voice and playing sound the same as when she first entered our consciousness in 1992 with her debut album "Infamous Angel." She closed the show with an encore of two songs from that album: "Let the Mystery Be" and "Our Town." The audience sang along with the band during the chorus of each.
We knew what we were in for. And we loved it.