Stringdusters do Flatt & Scruggs with I’d Rather Be Alone

The Infamous Stringdusters have another concept album on tap, a second tribute to the founders of bluegrass music. Following an earlier appreciation for Bill Monroe in 2021, this time it’s A Tribute To Flatt & Scruggs, a six song EP that looks back fondly on the songs that set the world on fire back in the 1950s and ’60s.

Many traditional bluegrass fans may think of the ‘Dusters as a jamgrass outfit, but all the guys in the group cut their teeth playing bluegrass, and the band launched initially as fairly straightahead grass. While not all the modern, more progressive bluegrass ensembles can lay down the old time sound, these guys can do it in spades.

As a first taste of the album, which drops at the end of April, we have a debut single this week, the Stringdusters take on the classic, I’d Rather Be Alone, written by Troy Martin, Tom James, and James West, recorded by Lester and Earl, and released as a single backed with Someone Took My Place With You in 1954.

Travis Book, Infamous Stringdusters’ bassist, who sings lead on this track, says that this one exemplifies the specialness of the Flatt & Scruggs catalog.

“The concept of paying tribute to the grandfathers or originators of bluegrass is one we bounced around for awhile, and after Bill Monroe, the most logical, I think any bluegrass musician would agree, is Flatt & Scruggs. They’re legendary, and without Earl’s banjo, bluegrass just doesn’t exist the way we know it today.

For the album, each of us brought a song to the table that we wanted to sing, and that had meaning to us. I reached out to my friend, Jon Weisberger, and asked him if he’d suggest a song that he thought hadn’t been overdone and would suit my voice. I was thrilled when he suggested I’d Rather Be Alone, because I was familiar with it but hadn’t really played it much or learned the lyrics and it was a perfect fit.

It’s a lament, and it’s a sad song, but it’s so beautiful. The way the melody hangs the line out there— ‘You say you’re sorry that you went awaaaaay’—it’s just classic Flatt & Scruggs!”

Book is supported by his regular bandmates, Andy Falco on guitar, Chris Pandolfi on banjo, Andy Hall on reso-guitar, and Jeremy Garrett on fiddle. They tracked the album the old time way as well, recording live in the studio, without overdubs.

Have a listen…

I’d Rather Be Alone is available now from popular download and streaming services online. The full Flatt & Scruggs tribute album will release on April 21, and pre-orders and pre-saves are enabled now as well.

The band also has a number of merchandise packs bundled with either CDs or LPs and other Tribute to Flatt & Scruggs branded items, available for pre-order online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.