Charlie Louvin was one half of the Louvin Brothers, almost the last in classic country music’s sequence of great brother duets. They came on the scene in the late 1940s with a truculent brand of gospel harmony singing (“That word broad-minded is spelled S-I-N”) that nevertheless doesn’t offend even the nonbeliever today. Their music has a hardcore quality, with great harmony-vocal artistry. The Louvins’ songs about the evils of alcohol rang true even before Charlie’s brother, Ira, was killed by a drunk driver in 1965. And many of their songs, with lugubrious recitations in the middle, had an over-the-top quality that culminated in the notorious Satan Is Real LP cover of 1959, with the brothers standing in front of a twelve-foot plywood devil, fangs, pitchfork, and all, glowing orange in the light cast by what Charlie later explained was a tire fire.

Still and all, sponsors explained to the Louvins that gospel music wouldn’t sell tobacco, and they recorded some secular songs that, almost without exception, became country classics. The brothers said they despised rock ‘n’ roll, but the precise harmonies of “Cash on the Barrelhead” found their way around the sharp corners of a suppressed fascination with it. Most of their secular records were slow numbers—sentimental story songs or exquisite tales of unattainable love like “When I Stop Dreaming,” always with nonpareil harmony singing, an art as quintessentially American as the blues.

After Ira’s death, Charlie Louvin had some novelty country hits like “See the Big Man Cry” and became a fixture of the Grand Ole Opry. Now entering his ninth decade, he has recently been rediscovered by the staff of a New York label called Tompkins Square and has experienced a career revival that’s lasted through several albums now. He’s redone a few Louvin Brothers songs but has mostly reached back to the tragic ballads and classic gospel hymns that inspired the brothers in the first place. His weathered voice has a great conversational quality in a song like “Wreck of the Old 97.”

I have a weakness for seeing octogenarian country performers, who just by the way they carry themselves on stage transmit volumes of information about what the live entertainment of the past was like. Louvin has recorded duets with the likes of Elvis Costello and Jeff Tweedy and has made some rather unlikely appearances in New York clubs. But the Green Wood United Methodist Church, where he’ll be appearing on Friday, February 13, should be a more comfortable and authentic place for him. He’s bringing a five-piece band.