A Conversation with Fleck (not Flatt) and Scruggs

Bela FleckThanks to the wonderful Bluegrass Blog for highlighting a recent online interview between banjo masters Earl Scruggs and Bela Fleck.  Scruggs (photo below) was the inventor of the three-fingered picking style that is integral to the bluegrass sound, and Fleck (photo top) is the banjo innovator who has won 11 Grammy awards and – with his 27 nominations – has the distinction of being nominated in more Grammy categories than any other musician.

The interview took place on BMI.com and covers – in just a few short questions – a variety of topics.  Here’s an exchange on their first meeting:Earl Scruggs

BF: Do you remember when John Hartford introduced us by any chance? I’m not expecting you to, but you came over to his place, and he invited me over…I played rhythm guitar, and then at the very end of the session, John said, “Oh, Béla plays a little bit of banjo,” and you said, “Oh, well get it out,” and then I played something for you.

I remember, because I thought it was so sweet of him…he knew that we had never met, and that I was eager to meet you. I played a Charlie Parker song – a jazz song – for you, and you said, “And they said it couldn’t be done.” I was very proud of myself.

ES: I remember I got that line from Everett Lilly’s daddy. Do you remember Everett Lilly?

BF: Yeah.

ES: Boy, he was West Virginia-country, out of this world. First time he ever heard me pick he said, “And they said it couldn’t be done.”

Enjoy reading the conversation between these musical masters.

One of the best examples among Bela’s original compositions on YouTube is the song Major Honker, which was recorded – at all places – at a Grand Ole Opry performance.  This is Bela with Nashville’s acoustic music elite:  Sam Bush on mandolin, Jerry Douglas on Dobro, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Bryan Sutton on guitar, and Mark Schatz on bass.  As the video moves toward the end of the song, catch the amazing lick by Bela around 3:29 of the video.  How does he do that?!?


More to come…