VARIOUS ARTISTS, “Foggy Mountain Special: A Bluegrass Tribute to Earl Scruggs,” Rounder. 12 tracks.
“Foggy Mountain Special” was to have been a tribute to Earl Scruggs while he was living.
But even though the 12 songs on the album were recorded between 2006 and 2008, it still hadn’t been released when Scruggs died on March 28 at age 88.
And so it became a memorial album as well.
Historians and fans will argue for generations about the exact moment that bluegrass was born.
But many of them will always contend that it was when Bill Monroe added Earl Scruggs’ super-charged banjo to his band in December 1945.
Scruggs’ rolling, three-finger style of banjo picking set the standard for generations of pickers to come.
And “Foggy Mountain Special” gives a dozen of them — Tom Adams, Ron Block, J.D. Crowe, Charlie Cushman, Kenny Ingram, Jim Mills, Joe Mullins, Larry Perkins, Craig Smith, Ron Stewart, David Talbott and Tony Trischka — a chance to show what they learned from the master.
They’re joined by a stellar cast of musicians including Dan Tyminski, Adam Steffey, Randy Kohrs, Cody Kilby, Clay Hess, Wyatt Rice, Ben Isaacs, Barry Bales, Dennis Crouch, Ron Stewart and Jason Carter.
All 12 songs were written by or closely associated with Scruggs including “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” ” Earl’s Breakdown,” “Flint Hill Special” and “Ground Speed.”
All 12 songs were recorded by Scruggs and Lester Flatt and their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys, between 1949 and 1969.
By the way, the band’s name, which lent itself to three instrumentals — “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” “Foggy Mountain Special” and “Foggy Mountain Rock” — came from the old Carter Family song, “Foggy Mountain Top.”
A good album with some of the best banjo players alive today.
Can’t find it in stores? Try http://www.rounder.com.