My favorite instrumental piece. World class masters Earl Scruggs and John McEuen lay down a driving, rollicking tune, with back up help by acoustic bass great, the late Roy Husky, Jr. The word is that Roy arrived very late to the session and there was some concern on the part of Earl and John that he didn’t know the song and what was going to happen. They played it though once for Roy and then they recorded it. Roy came through with flying colors.
It is a treat for me to recognize Earl Scruggs, who was such a musical influence; Earl being the pioneering banjo player that he was. John has his own amazing discography, solo, in collaborations like this, and with his group, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. So here’s “Carolina Traveler”. I recommend that you play it over and over about six times in a row. Fire it up gentlemen. - Harry Lipson
One of my musical heroes passed over tonight. My heart aches for Earl Scruggs. He does leave us with a wealth of records, three generations of banjo pickers, and legions of fans the world over.
Soft spoken, so far as I know. Shy as a goldfinch, Earl had a big ol’ case of stagefright for a long, long time. But he was Mr. Banjo. Earl invented the Scruggs style of fingerpicking and his genius brought bluegrass, the banjo, and good music to millions throughout the world. What a mighty oak of a musician. Earl is a founding father of Bluegrass, with no apology to Bill Monroe, himself a founder and the Father of Bluegrass, for whom Earl worked, beginning in the mid 1940s.
Lester Flatt was never my taste, apparently not Earl’s either. They split up their Flatt and Scruggs duo after something like 20 years together, as something less than bosom buds. I know that John Hartford, John McEwen, Tony Trishka, Bela Fleck, Bill Keith, Alison Brown, Steve Martin, Herb Pederson, and Emily Robison thought of Earl in reverential tones.
We lost a living legend but we still have all the music that the legend created. There are fewer and fewer of the great pioneers left. We still have Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, and a handful of others, but we lost one of the very best today.
In tribute, here is Earl with John McEuen and Roy Husky, Jr. in one of my favorite instrumentals “Carolina Traveler.” HL