Month: March 2012

Earl Scruggs, R.I.P.

Earl. That’s the only name you had to say in bluegrass circles and everyone immediately knew the subject.  Jimmy Martin could open the seminal Will the Circle Be Unbroken album by saying “Earl never did do that,” and you knew exactly what he meant. Few people define an instrument and a musical style so completely as Earl Scruggs, who passed away today at age 88, did for bluegrass banjo.  Bill Monroe will forever be known as the Father of Bluegrass, but it wasn’t until he brought a young Earl Scruggs on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium for a Grand Ole Opry show in 1945 that the full sound of bluegrass was realized.  I’ll let Richard Smith, author of Can’t You Hear Me Calling:  The Life of Bill Monroe, pick up the story from here. For Earl’s first night on the Opry, Monroe picked out a fast number that would show off the newcomer’s dazzling style – “White House Blues,” an old song recounting the 1901 William McKinley assassination.  It was a perfect selection.  Scruggs …

Changing Seasons

I love March Madness.  After a boring set of games on Thursday (although I’m glad Vanderbilt’s game was somewhat pedestrian), Friday finally got us in to the “madness” part of the event.  Two 15s beating number 2 seeds on the same day – that’s as good as it gets! But as much as I enjoy these weeks of one-and-done basketball, I had an experience this afternoon that really gets me excited – sitting down with a friend over a glass of wine and choosing games out of the Washington Nationals season ticket package we’d purchased together.  Now I’m pumped! Basketball is fun, but baseball is on another plane.  So in honor of the distribution of the season tickets, I give you a smattering of baseball quotations to bring a smile to your face and anticipation to your heart: There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball.  Unfortunately, neither of them works.  (Legendary hitting coach Charlie Lau) It doesn’t take much to get me up for baseball.  Once the National Anthem plays, I get chills.  I …

DJB is listening to…

Many of my younger (read “hipper”) Facebook friends have regular status updates that read, “Joe Cool is listening to Still Sound by Toro Y Moi  on Spotify.”  Or something similar. I’m behind the times (what else is new), so somehow I haven’t gotten around to letting everyone know what I’m listening to at any time.  Plus, my children would be mortified.  They run from the room when my iPod is in the dock. But every now and then I listen to something and want to tell someone.  I have to do it the old-fashioned way:  through my blog. I don’t usually drive in to work, but today was different.  And so instead of the iPod, I picked up a couple of CDs (you remember them) – Norman Blake’s Live at McCabe’s (which I’ve written about before) and the Tony Rice/Norman Blake duet album.  These are two beautifully simple albums that are anything but simple musically. Blake and Rice are in the upper pantheon of acoustic country/bluegrass/newgrass guitarists.  They’ve both played on seminal albums that set …

A Note of Thanksgiving As I Enter My 58th Year

I had difficulty getting out of bed today…the last morning wake up of my 57th year. For some inexplicable reason my life is full – on the verge of overflowing – on the eve of my 57th birthday.  (I had to ask Candice, and she confirmed – when you turn 57 you are beginning your 58th year.  I never was great at math.)  First and foremost, Candice is wrapping up her stay in the hospital after successful hip replacement surgery on Wednesday.  We head home today to continue the recovery.  Both children are getting ready to go overseas (Claire by herself to Sweden; Andrew to Costa Rica) over spring break. Yikes!  How did that happen? My sister texted me last night to say my father went to the emergency room with a lung infection, high enzymes, and low sodium…and the news got worse when she called to say he had a mild heart attack this morning. I just spoke with my brother and Dad just came out of surgery where they found 95% blockage in one …