An all-star bluegrass tribute album to the late Earl Scruggs is set for release on Rounder June 5. This project, the brainchild of former Lonesome River Band guitarist and noted recording engineer Tim Austin, was recorded well before Scruggs’ recent passing, with most of the tracks completed several years ago.
Tim brought together a dozen top banjo pickers with a stellar supporting cast for Foggy Mountain Special – A Bluegrass Tribute To Earl Scruggs. What fan of banjo music wouldn’t want a new recording featuring Ron Block, Ron Stewart, J.D. Crowe, Jim Mills, Charlie Cushman, Kenny Ingram, Craig Smith, Larry Perkins, Tony Trischka, David Talbot, Tom Adams and Joe Mullins?
The rhythm section is equally impressive: Adam Steffey on mandolin, Dan Tyminski on guitar and mandolin, Wyatt Rice, Cody Kilby and Clay Hess on guitar, Ron Stewart and Jason Carter on fiddle, Randy Kohrs on resonator guitar, and Ben Isaacs, Barry Bales and Dennis Crouch on bass.
The 12 tracks are instrumentals either written by or closely associated with Scruggs. All are ones he recorded, with several featuring one of Earl’s signature sounds, the use of the Scruggs tuners which allowed him to quickly detune and retune a string. These devices are now staple equipment for serious banjo players, though Scruggs developed the technique and recorded using it even before the Scruggs tuners came into existence!
Here’s a look at the tunes included with the featured banjoist:
- Flint Hill Special – David Talbot
- Reuben – Jim Mills
- Foggy Mountain Special – Ron Block
- Randy Lynn Rag – Charlie Cushman
- Sally Goodin – Larry Perkins
- Pike County Breakdown – Ron Stewart
- Foggy Mountain Rock – Tom Adams
- Nashville Skyline Rag – J.D. Crowe
- Earl’s Breakdown – Joe Mullins
- Steel Guitar Rag – Tony Trischka
- Ground Speed – Kenny Ingram
- Foggy Mountain Breakdown – Craig Smith
Rounder has made a single track available in advance of the release. It features Ron Block’s take on Foggy Mountain Special, a Scruggs composition that reflects the early sound of rock n roll, which was making its impact felt in the mid-1950s when Earl recorded it. Interestingly, Scruggs had experimented with this sound much earlier, and had used these sorts of bouncy, bluesy phrases with Bill Monroe, particularly the cut of Heavy Traffic Ahead in 1946.
Assisting Block on this tune are Tyminski on guitar, Steffey on mandolin, Stewart on fiddle and Bales on bass.
Should be a good’n.