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"We're optimizing every format," he says. "It has to be done. The record business is facing an apocalypse. The apocalypse will be when the master tapes are destroyed and all we are left with are these non-pedigreed digital copies of uncertain origins."

Over the last three years, Burnett has reemerged as a songwriter and solo recording artist, releasing The True False Identity and a 40-song retrospective in 2006 (his first solo projects in fourteen years), and this year, Tooth of Crime, based on his work with playwright Sam Shepard. And after decades away from touring, he has returned to the stage and will be with Plant and Krauss when they finally arrive at the Fox Theatre. But save for a few solo songs during intermission, he'll be in the shadows, doing what he's always done: illuminating and clarifying the essence of a performance.

Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Guided by the talents of T-Bone Burnett.
Pamela Springsteen
Robert Plant and Alison Krauss: Guided by the talents of T-Bone Burnett.

Details

8 p.m. Wednesday, September 24. The Fox Theatre, 527 North Grand Boulevard. $47.50 to $67.50. 314-534-1678.

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"I've spent so much of my life sequestered in a studio creating my own reality that I missed out on something that's terribly important," he says. "The impression made from one live moment can be equal to thousands of impressions made through mechanical reproduction. I'm 60 now, and I'm a guitar player in a rock & roll band, which is where I wanted to be in the first place."

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