On this Day #38 – Flatt & Scruggs

Lester Flatt & Earl ScruggsOn this Day …

On Saturday, April 11, 1953, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys (Curly Seckler, Benny Martin, bass player unknown, but may have been Red Murphy) performed at the Mosque Theatre in Richmond, Virginia, along with Lefty Frizzell, Wayne Raney, Lou Miller, Green Mountain Boys and others.  It was billed as a Hillbilly All-Star Roundup.

There were two shows, at 7:00 and 9:30 p.m. Tickets prices were $1.65, $1.50, and $.95.

We gave some thought about the likely set-list, discussing the content with Penny Parsons, who is working on a book about John Ray ‘Curly’ Seckler …..

Flatt & Scruggs recorded in November 1952 … they cut If I Should Wander Back Tonight, Dim Lights, Thick Smoke, Why Did You Wander?, …. these would have been popular songs on their set list at the time of Mosque Theater show, wouldn’t they?

Parsons responded …..

Penny Parsons“It is a very good bet that Flatt and Scruggs would have performed Why Did You Wander and Thinking of You on that show. They were released on a single on April 3, 1953. Dim Lights and Flint Hill Special were released on December 12, 1952, so they probably performed those as well. If I Should Wander Back had not yet been released, so they might or might not have been performing it live at that time (it was released in June of 1953). I’m Gonna Settle Down was released in November of 1952, so they might have done it.

Also, some of their last Mercury sides were still being released in 1952, so they might have performed Salty Dog Blues, Pike County Breakdown, and Preachin’, Prayin’, Singin’.

They usually did some of their old favorites as well, like Doin’ My Time, Foggy Mountain Breakdown, God Loves His Children, or Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms. Lester probably did another solo or two, like Down the Road.

Curly usually sang a solo or two (possibly Moonlight on My Cabin or A Purple Heart), and Benny Martin would have done several fiddle tunes and possibly sang Me and My Fiddle. If Red Murphy was indeed with them, he would have done a comedy routine, with one of the other band members as straight man. And for Gospel quartets they might have done Get in Line Brother or Brother I’m Getting Ready to Go (both released in March of 1952).

Of course this is all speculation, but at least the dates fit and the makeup of their sets was fairly predictable (duets, trios, quartets, solos, instrumentals, comedy).

One thing is for sure; this was a fantastic band and it would have been an enjoyable and highly entertaining show!”

In this clip from the same era Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys sing the Gospel song Pray for the Boys   …..


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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.