Time for a little classic bluegrass on the Saturday Soundtrack, brought to you today by the Earls of Leicester.* This wonderful tribute band, formed by Jerry Douglas in 2013 with five of his friends who love the music of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, plays the classic music of the Foggy Mountain Boys pretty much straight up and with a real affection for these pioneers of bluegrass.
I used to listen to Flatt and Scruggs in the mornings on WSM radio as we were getting ready to go to school. So to kick off this Soundtrack, let’s go back to my younger days and listen to the song that was written for their sponsor of those shows, the Martha White Theme.
When the Earls of Leicester formed in 2013, their mission was ambitious but exact: to preserve and promote the legacy of bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, in hopes of reviving the duo’s music for longtime admirers and introducing a new generation to their genre-defining sound. Within a year of releasing their self-titled debut, the Nashville-based six-piece far surpassed their own expectations, winning a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and earning six awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Now, with their first live album, Earls of Leicester offer up a selection of songs that fully capture the pure joy and supreme musicianship that propel their every performance.Earls of Leicester | Official Site
A classic Flatt and Scruggs tune is Roll in my Sweet Baby’s Arms. Even singing in a cave, the Earls of Leicester do a great job.
This next song, as Douglas explains in the intro, was famously banned by the Grand Ole Opry after Flatt and Scruggs played it one Saturday evening.
The Train that Carried My Girl From Town and Dim Lights, Thick Smoke are classics of the bluegrass canon.
Several of these videos are from the Earls of Leicester Live album from 2019.
Recorded over two nights at Nashville’s CMA Theater, The Earls of Leicester Live at The CMA Theater in The Country Music Hall of Fame bears a boundless vitality that makes songs from over a half-century ago feel irresistibly fresh. Despite the band’s painstaking precision in recreating the catalog of Flatt and Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys, the album unfolds with an easy warmth that honors the essence of traditional bluegrass, which Douglas describes as “music that was meant to be played on back porches.” Earls of Leicester Live is also accompanied by a DVD that shows the complete splendor of their live set: the throwback attire, the off-the-cuff but illuminating between-song banter, the relentless hotfooting required of their stage setup. “Our goal is to go out and reacquaint everybody with the music of Flatt and Scruggs just the way they did it, which means fewer microphones and a good amount of choreography,” says Douglas. “We’re trying to put as much as we can into the music before it even reaches the speakers.”Earls of Leicester | Official Site
We’ll end up with a sizzling version of White House Blues. Let’s hear McKinley holler one more time!
More to come…
*Check out the comments if you are puzzled by the name.
Looking forward to listening (and I guess in the Youtube era watching) – been a long-time Jerry Douglas fan.
BUT, what is the story with their name – what do these guys have to do with the Earl of Leicester – a noted Elizabethean?
Inquiring minds want to know …
Good question, Tom. The name is a play on Lester (Flatt) and Earl (Scruggs)…just reversed with a little English thrown in there for good measure!
That is hilarious – and scholastically obscure! Thanks for the illumination …
I think it is hilarious as well…because it IS so scholastically obscure! I wonder how many Americans would have realized the correct way to pronounce Leicester if their football (soccer) team hadn’t done so well in 2016/2017 in the English and Premier leagues!
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