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Earl Scruggs: 80th birthday (2004)

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Walking Eagle 09 Jan 04 - 03:26 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 09 Jan 04 - 03:48 PM
open mike 09 Jan 04 - 04:06 PM
Gene 09 Jan 04 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Russ 09 Jan 04 - 07:37 PM
Walking Eagle 10 Jan 04 - 12:49 AM
cobber 10 Jan 04 - 01:15 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 10 Jan 04 - 02:01 PM
open mike 10 Jan 04 - 02:39 PM
Mark Clark 10 Jan 04 - 10:31 PM
NH Dave 11 Jan 04 - 06:25 PM
Bill in Alabama 11 Jan 04 - 08:02 PM
GUEST,Mary 11 Jan 04 - 08:44 PM
Bill in Alabama 11 Jan 04 - 10:27 PM
GUEST,Dale 12 Jan 04 - 01:50 AM
Bill in Alabama 12 Jan 04 - 09:12 AM
Steve Latimer 12 Jan 04 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 12 Jan 04 - 12:51 PM
GUEST,Steve Latimer 12 Jan 04 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Steve Latimer 12 Jan 04 - 03:04 PM
Mark Clark 12 Jan 04 - 03:19 PM
Fortunato 12 Jan 04 - 03:46 PM
Mark Clark 12 Jan 04 - 05:21 PM
Fortunato 13 Jan 04 - 02:27 PM
Cluin 17 Jan 07 - 02:52 AM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 17 Jan 07 - 07:48 PM
Rman 18 Jan 07 - 06:22 AM
bubblyrat 18 Jan 07 - 04:49 PM
Rman 19 Jan 07 - 04:02 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 03:26 PM

He turned eighty this past Tuesday.

I can remember watching the Flatt and Scruggs Show in WV as a young eaglet. My great grandmother loved the show. A few times, we would watch together.

Seems as Lester and Earl became friends while with the Bluegrass Boys. Earl got tired of touring and tendered his notice. Lester heard about it and did likewise. They decided to form their own group and took a radio job in Bristol, TN.

I never saw them in person. Kind of wished I had now.

Does anyone have the CD The Three Pickers?

Anyway, happy 80th Earl!

W.E.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 03:48 PM

W.E.

I don't go back as far as you with Earl, but he was a tremendous influence. I first saw Flatt & Scruggs on that old Hootenanny TV show. At the time, I was a young teen who was into the Kingston Trio and any other folk group that had a banjo. This opened up a whole new world of bluegrass and country music to me. Quickly I realized there was a whole lot more to this guitar, banjo, and singing thing then folk music was offering me. It was about at this time that I found WSM out of Nashville and listened on the AM skip as I still do today.

Earl Scruggs. The most important banjo player ever.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: open mike
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 04:06 PM

there was a wonderful interview with him on Terry Gross' NPR show this morning.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Gene
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 07:27 PM

Not to take anything away from Earl Scruggs and any
Great fiddle favorites, but when i first heard the
Jim & Jesse 'LIVE IN JAPAN' LP with Garland Shuping on the banjo
and Joe Meadows on the fiddle...

in my book, i marked them down as good as the best...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 09 Jan 04 - 07:37 PM

WE,

Same story. Watched 'em on TV in WV. Remember Dolly & Porter?

Saw F&S once live. I can say that you've never heard F&S until you've heard them in a high school gym.

Feeling up to coming to the next BDF meeting?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 12:49 AM

Hey Russ,

Why don't you sign up as a member so folks can send you a PM? Wish I could come, but can't drive. I'm still taking too much pain med. Tell the folks I miss them and I'll try to get there a.s.i.c. I'm doing much better as well.

I believe that WSAZ TV3 carried them.

I would have liked to have seen them live.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: cobber
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 01:15 AM

One of my favourite records was called "Strictly Instrumental" with Scruggs and Flatt and Doc Watson. I was going to try to turn it into a CD but it is pretty well worn out. Does anyone know if it's still available?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 02:01 PM

I also bought the Strictly Instrumental albus new years ago. Mine is somewhat worn, but still playable. I have not yet turned it up on CD either. What a hot album.

In regards to Jim & Jesse's banjo player, yes I saw them and he was great. There are also many other greats. I think Earl Scruggs will always be known as the most famous, the one who set the benchmark for all who came after.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: open mike
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 02:39 PM

Earl perfected the 3 finger (one thumb and two fingers) style of banjo playing. He played with Bill Monroe along with Lester Flatt for several years. 2500 mile tour every week, always back in nashville in time for the Grand Ole Opry on saturday night.
Foggy Mt. breakdown was his song that was in the sound track of Bonnie and Clyde movie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Mark Clark
Date: 10 Jan 04 - 10:31 PM

Gene, I certainly agree about Ralph (Joe) Meadows. I just love his fiddle work.

Got to see F&S at the University of Chicago Folk Festival one year, they were fantastic. I saw Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass quite a few times but got to see F&S only once.

Russ, I didn't get to see F&S in a high school gym but I got to see Porter & Dolly in the Hammond, Ind., HS gym. They were also great.

I also got to see the Earl Scruggs Review in person several times. Earl, Gary, Randy, Josh Graves, Vassar Clements, Jody Maphis (damn, he looks like his dad), what a great band.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: NH Dave
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 06:25 PM

For the Americans among us, they used to do an annual appearance, on US TV, on The Beverly Hillbillys, as Cousin Lester and Cousin Earl.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 08:02 PM

My brother and I opened for the Earl Scruggs Review a time or two. We still see Josh Graves at the Museum of Appalachia homecoming every year, and Vassar Clements lives in a town very close to us and used to perform frequently at the college where teach. I've jammed with him a few times, but have never had the honor to perform onstage with him.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Mary
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 08:44 PM

Bill in Alabama

Whats the name of your group and are you still playing bluegrass ? We were so fortunate to see Josh Graves and the fiddler player Kenny
in Wisconsin two years ago. It must have been a wonderful experience opening for Earl Scruggs.

Mary and Steve


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 11 Jan 04 - 10:27 PM

Hey, Mary & Steve

At the time, we were The Foster Brothers; later we became the Foster Family String Band, and the whole family performed professionally from 1977 to 1995. We did Bluegrass and traditional Appalachian music. Now Anne (wife) and I are working as a duo --The Fosters-- doing mostly old-time Appalachian material, and playing just a few gigs here and there.

Opening for the Scruggs Review was quite an experience. When the promoter first contacted me I laughed at him and told him that there wasn't enough money to get me on stage before Earl Scruggs. It turns out that there was, though. Scary at first, but Earl was really a down-to-earth fellow, and we enjoyed visiting with him backstage. I grew up in East Tennessee, and Earl was my model and idol.

Bill


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Dale
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 01:50 AM

Saw an interview with Lester Flatt a long time ago. He said something to the effect that he had as little use for Earl Scruggs as any man alive, but gave him credit as being the one who "invented" bluegrass music as we know it.

Now that's all paraphrase taken from a memory clouded by time, but I think I pretty much got the gist of it.

Now to say he was the "most important" banjo picker of all time may be stretching it, in my opinion. If you say "most important Scruggs style/three finger" picker, then I think that would probably be right.

Charlie Poole, Uncle Dave, Grandpa, Fred Van Eps, Vess Osman to name a few ~~ they're all right up there, depending on the style in question.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 09:12 AM

Hello, Dale--

You're right on track; I conducted what turned to be Lester's last interview, just a week or two before he died. It was for a public television documentary, and he praised Earl's banjo virtuosity, he dodged all questions about any friendship between them.

By the way-- I would add David Akeman (String Bean) to your list. He was a fine showman and a fine musician, and he got me interested in the old traditional "clawhammer" and "drop thumb" style of pickin.'

Bill


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Steve Latimer
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 10:04 AM

While there is no question that Earl was an incredible picker and the most influential Bluegrass banjo player ever, he was also extremely well marketed by his wife Louise. A bitter Bill Monroe was interviewed in the sixties, he said if you want to know anything about Bluegrass, ask Louise Scruggs.

As a banjo player, I'm glad that Earl was so well marketed. This probably did more to popularize Bluegrass than anything. But from what I have heard it cost Earl some friends. It would seem that Lester and Bill can be included in that group. There are some stories about Earl and Bill Keith falling out over the Earl Scruggs and The Five String Banjo book and the Keith Scruggs tuners.

You can't talk about great, influential Banjo pickers without mentioning Ralph Stanley who seems to have combined Bluegrass and Old Time in his sound. Ralph is my favourite player, although he is not as technically proficient as Earl. Don Reno claimed to have developed the Bluegrass style but went overseas in the war and came back to find Earl playing it. Right or wrong Reno was a great player. Snuffy Jenkins is the guy that Earl learned three finger from, although Earl took it further.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 12:51 PM

All fine and dandy, and you can knock Earl for this and that, but the fact is, ask any room full of 100 people, and there is a fine chance no one will have heard of any one other than Earl Scruggs.

You can call it marketing if you like. No matter what you call it, I don't see Gibson or anyone else selling a Fred van Eps or Stringbean banjo.

That is because Earl Scruggs is the most known and influential banjo player in the most general sense. It's not to say others are great or somewhat influential, but they are dwarfed by this man. So please face the fact on this. Earl is getting accolades and royalties and is a living legend. Monroe and Flatt were obviously bitter and are now dead.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 02:50 PM

Martin Gibson,

I'm not disagreeing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Steve Latimer
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 03:04 PM

There is a recent interview with Earl here. You might have to choose Oct 16th, 2003 over to the right.

Scruggs interview


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 03:19 PM

I don't have any sources for support but my feeling was that Monroe got over his resentment after Ralph Rinzler helped him understand that he was the fountainhead of a whole genre and nearly every significant band had at least one member who'd been a Blue Grass Boy and learned at Bill's knee. It would really piss you off to have assembled a band of the quality and innovation of the 1946 Blue Grass Boys and then have key members leave and eventually become competitors.

Bill and Lester used to perform together in the 70s when they started doing those "History of Bluegrass" concerts at festivals. Half the people who ever played with Bill would be booked at the same festival and they used to recreate some of the old numbers. I don't remember Earl being part of that though.

I think Lester's falling out with Earl was at least partly because he just didn't like the music they were doing so they could seem like part of the folk revival. I think he loved the music they did in the 50s and just hated all that "hippie" stuff.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Fortunato
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 03:46 PM

Banjo influence:
Living here in DC I had a chance to hear Don Reno (after WWII) live and on local tv many times. I don't agree that Earl Scruggs is more accomplished. IMHOP Earl Scruggs has a liquid flowing style, that rolls sweetly and is 'warmer' than Don Reno. Don Reno's style is technically accomplished, but is fiery and staccato, something like Ralph Stanley. His guitar playing had the same quality. I've had a few chances to play with Ralph Stanley at the Washington FF over the years and I agree with Steve above that the emotional content, and the piercing quality of the notes in his playing are 'Old Time'.
On Joe Meadows, he has also taught the banjo and passed along the heritage directly. My son Ian and I appeared in a 'Generations' workshop with Joe and one of his students, his nephew I think, and that boy had received a direct inoculation of old time fiddle from a master.

Now. It's hard for a Bluegrass musician to make a living. Long miles, short pay, and honkytonks are not the easy road. If Earl's wife marketed him well and made it possible for him to make a living, then God Bless her, and, since I haven't met him, I can only say I've heard he is a fine, humble man.

cheers, Chance


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Mark Clark
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 05:21 PM

Chance, I don't think bluegrass musicians (the sidemen) ever made a living. I heard Josh Graves say that he couldn't even afford a house until he joined the Earl Scruggs Review. Some of the band leaders made a living but even some well known names had to struggle to survive. They continued in the music mostly because they believed in it. One Blue Grass Boy I know was paid $50 per show, period. Driving the bus and non-musical work at festivals paid nothing but I think planting fields and building fences paid extra. I think his pay was about average for a bluegrass sideman.

I've read that during the time Bill Keith and Del McCoury were Blue Grass Boys (1963-64), they might put the whole band in a station wagon, tie the bass on top, and drive from Nashville to California for a one night stand. People have this idea that bluegrass has dropped in popularity but in fact, it may be more popular right now than it's ever been.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Fortunato
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 02:27 PM

Yep, Mark.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Cluin
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 02:52 AM

The Strictly Instrumental CD.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 17 Jan 07 - 07:48 PM

Following up on what Fortunato said, Don Reno developed a slightly different style of picking using single-string playing alternating thumb and fore-finger like a flat pick. As a result, his style would be more percussive than Scruggs. He was in the army, I believe, at the time of Earl's popularity and was probably a little up-staged as a result.

I think Bill Keith deserves some recognition for taking the bluegrass style in a slightly different direction with the "conjunct melody style".

Also, Bela Fleck, Pat Cloud and the more jazzier approach varies from Earl.

The most remarkable thing about Earl is when you slow his records down, his timing is consistently impecable. Slow down some other players and you'll see what I mean.

I met him in the Fifties with Guy Carawan and Jack Elliot, and he was the nicest person.
I think his humanity was equal to his talent.

Frank


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Rman
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 06:22 AM

Father of Bluegrass musicians = B. Monroe.

Father of Bluegrass Banjo players = E.Scruggs.

Have YOU hugged your Banjo today ?????!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: bubblyrat
Date: 18 Jan 07 - 04:49 PM

I take it you guys are all Americans ?? Obviously, here in Britain ,we don"t exactly have a great tradition of 5-string banjo-playing, but many of us Brits are great fans of Appalachian & " Bluegrass" music, and "American Old-Time" has a big following,especially at some of the bigger festivals,like Sidmouth. Most people of my age (60) will probably have first heard Earl Scruggs in relation to the "Beverly Hillbillies" & gone on from there. Film themes have made their contribution,especially Bonnie & Clyde, and Deliverance,& have introduced many British people to the instrument-----ANYONE with a 5-string banjo in Britain is ALWAYS asked to play "Duelling Banjos" (SAD,isn"t it ?? ) I have 3 favourite CDs if I need a banjo "fix" (which is often !) One is by Alison Brown & various other superb musicians, another is my personally-signed CD by Riley Baugus, but if I REALLY want the hairs on the back of my neck to stand up,it has to be Earl Scruggs & the Boys playing "Mocking Banjos" or "Little Maggie"-----Earl"s licks & the Dobro-player"s solos just can"t be beat, in my view !!!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Earl Scruggs
From: Rman
Date: 19 Jan 07 - 04:02 AM

Well I'm a Brit bubblyrat! - I reckon the reason folk ask banjo players to play DB's is because It's possibly; the only time they've ever heard a 5 string played - (properly?) - (perhaps?)


I feel the (5)string banjo didn't/hasn't take/n off here in the stuffy UK because of the "country yokel" stigma attached to it.

Anyway, DB's did me a favour once - whils't out busking, a (generous) punter asked me to play it, (yes it is possible to play both parts on a single banjo) - and upon my completing it put a £20 in my shirt pocket!!

Right, I'm off to get ma grits.


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