Luke Combs and his band surprised fans on Saturday (Feb. 8) at the Peoria Civic Center in Peoria, Ill. with a bare-bones rendition of "Man of Constant Sorrow," an over 100-year-old song that's been a huge part of Americana, bluegrass, folk and country music since the 2000 release of the film O Brother, Where Art Thou.
"Man of Constant Sorrow" existed under different titles dating back to at least 1913. Although the folk revival of the 1960s ate up the song's countrified blues sound (see Joan Baez's "Woman of Constant Sorrow" and Judy Collins' "Maid of Constant Sorrow"), it likely took Ulysses Everett McGill of the Soggy Bottom Boys (a.k.a. George Clooney) lip-syncing to Dan Tyminski for it to eventually make its way onto Combs' setlist.
Tyminski, his longtime band mate Alison Krauss and others scored huge as participants on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack. Its musical quality and cultural impact led to dominating performances at the CMA, ACM and Grammy awards.
It's fair to assume that Combs, Dwight Yoakam, Home Free and others to interpret the song this century paid homage to the Coen Brothers' modern cinematic classic. Yet the song could've made country music playlists anyway for those into 1960s deep dives. Waylon Jennings and Bobby Bare recorded it back then as "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow."
Combs' performance came during his ongoing What You See is What You Get tour, featuring opening acts Ashley McBryde and Drew Parker. It proves that the Nashville star might have a surprise or two up his fishing shirt's sleeve at any given tour stop. That same night, Combs debuted a new song: the fans, fiancee and family hat-tip "Without You."