The Cantrells

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Cousin Andy's welcomes back folk duo The Cantrells

CARBONDALE - Ask Al Cantrell what makes his acoustic duo so popular, and he'll point to his wife, Emily.

"It's because she writes songs which have popular themes, love songs in a lot of respects," he says. "Also, they have an imagery that allows you to use your imagination. Sometimes it takes you out to a scene in the Rocky Mountains on some river. Sometimes it's a scene where an owl is flying toward you."

Ask Emily Cantrell the same question, and she'll point to Al's fine fiddling. As you may have guessed, it's the combination of Emily's and Al's gifts that have earned The Cantrells critical acclaim.

Emily's impressive vocal range and imaginative lyrics plays beautifully with the flick of Al's fiddle and mandolin. Or as the Nashville Tennessean put it: "She sings like an angel, he plays like the devil."

The Cantrells' mishmash of folk, standards, bluegrass, Celtic, country and western-swing have appeared on the Robert Redford flick "A River Runs Through It" and on nationally syndicated radio programs such as "Mountain Stage," "Riders Radio Theater," "Folk Sampler," "River City Folk" and "etown."

The group is also featured regularly on several shows aired on Carbondale's community radio station, WDBX. The Cantrells are so popular regionally that they make a yearly trip from their Tennessee home to pack Cousin Andy's Coffee House, where they will perform Friday.

This weekend, they will play from their most recent CD "The Heart Wants What It Wants," and try out some new tunes, including an anti-war ditty and a ballad based on the recent mining disaster. They'll also shake off some of their most requested covers, which favor old-timey classics like "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing," pop-folk favorites including Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me on, I'm a Radio," and standards such as "The Way You Look Tonight" and "On a Slow Boat to China."

Cousin Andy's Coffee House is located in the fellowship hall of Church of the Good Shepherd, United Church of Christ, Carbondale (on the corner of Orchard and Schwartz streets). Doors open at 7 p.m., and the music starts around 7:30 p.m. Suggested donations are $10 for adults, $5 for students and low income, and free for children.

To learn more about the venue, go to To learn more about The Cantrells, go to

- Marleen Shepherd