Unfortunately, this is a show with a split personality, sadly precipitated by the death of Earl Scruggs at age 88, the bluegrass pioneer whose complex banjo stylings not only transformed the instrument but also put the overdrive into and created one of the building blocks for the music we now know as bluegrass.
This week’s show was originally promoted as “A Bit of Folk Foolishness” since this is the April Fool’s Day weekend so that thread is retained for the second hour.
In the first hour we pay homage to a true American original whose banjo virtuosity has influenced generations of pickers since the late 1940s and, as music writer and musician Peter Cooper aptly pointed out this week in The Tennessean, whose “adaptability and open-minded approach to musicality and to collaboration made him a bridge between genres and generations.”
In this tribute, I’ve chosen to concentrate on Earl Scruggs’ early years with Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys (including Lester Flatt) and then his duo collaboration with Flatt and why both bands were historic and landmark events in American music.
- Artist, "Title", Album, Label
- Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, “Heavy Traffic”, “Why Did You Wander”, The Essential Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys 1945-1949/Vol. 1, Columbia
- Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, “It’s Mighty Dark To Travel”, “Bluegrass Breakdown”, The Essential Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys 1945-1949/Vol. 2, Columbia
- Lester Flatt/ Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown”, “The Ballad Of Jed Clampett”, Appalachian Stomp, Rhino
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, “Will The Circle Be Unbroken”, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, United Artists
- Lester Flatt/ Earl Scruggs & The Foggy Mountain Boys, “Flint Hill Special”, “Earl’s Breakdown”, “Dear Old Dixie”, Foggy Mountain Jamboree, Columbia
- Andrew Calhoun, “Folksingers Are Boring”, Phoenix Envy, Waterbug
- Christine Lavin, “Please Don’t Make Me Too Happy”, One Wild Night/In Concert, Independent
- Carla Ulbricht, “Would You Rather Be Paid”, Professional Smart Aleck, Official Seal
- John Tams w/Coope Boyes & Simpson, “On And On”, Dark Side Of The Mongrel, Dog Records
- Four Bitchin’ Babes, “Nervous Wreck Of Edna Fitzgerald”, Gabby Road, Shanachie
- Hot Soup, “(I Don’t Know What Was) The Last Thing On My Mind”, Soup Happens, Souper Music
- Rick Fielding, “Off To School No More”, Acoustic Workshop, Borealis
- John Roberts & Tony Barrand, “The Rolling Mills Of New Jersey”, Live At Holstein’s, Golden Hind Music
- Utah Phillips, “Moose Turd Pie”, Good Though!, Philo
- Ian Robb et al, “The Aftermath”, The Rose And Crown, Folk-Legacy