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Norah Jones' country project earns praise from high places

Jazz-blues chanteuse Norah Jones has gotten a lot of awards and kudos in her illustrious career. But few could match this recent praise from the Queen of Country herself, Dolly Parton: “I love hearing Norah Jones sing anything,” she gushed. “But I was overjoyed and overwhelmed when I heard her sing my song 'Jolene.' I salute The Little Willies.”

And The Little Willies – if you haven’t guessed by now – is Jones’ C&W-themed side project with guitarist Jim Campilongo, guitarist/vocalist Richard Julian, bassist bassist Lee Alexander, and drummer Dan Rieser. And their twanging take on “Jolene” appears on their upcoming sophomore disc, “For The Good Times,” (out Jan. 12) alongside covers of Loretta Lynn’s “Fist City,” Ralph Stanley’s “I Worship You,” and Lefty Frizzell’s “If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time.”

Fresh from their appearance at this year’s Bridge School Benefit, Jones and country crew will appear Monday on the Woodsongs Old Time Radio Hour, which fans can stream live at 3:59 p.m. via www.woodsongs.com/webcast.

On Tuesday, they’ll move on over to the prestigious Grand Ole Opry for a show that’s also being broadcast live at www.opry.com/wsm. Not bad for a combo that just formed for fun back in 2003 to play a concert at New York’s intimate Living Room venue. But within three years, they’d released an eponymous debut album, and the rest is faux-Nashville history. Keep up with them at www.thelittlewillies.net.

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