There may be no single event in the history of bluegrass more charged with legend than the time in 1962 when Flatt & Scruggs played Carnegie Hall. Of course the LP of that live performance is among the finest they ever made, and students of the music still pore over it, second by second. But younger fans may not understand the cultural significance of hillbilly music being welcomed into such hallowed halls… and in New York City!
It was an important moment for the acceptance of our music, before the popularity of The Beverly Hillbillies began to propel Lester and Earl into pop culture significance. The folk boom was in full swing, but that was still considered lowbrow by serious music critics. And that wasn’t lost on the band as they prepared to take the stage in December of ’62.
Now, thanks to Jerry Salley and Carl Jackson, we have a musical remembrance of that night, and what it has meant to bluegrass lovers then and now. A new single, the first from Jerry’s upcoming Front Porch Philosophy album, explores their reaction to the Columbia Records release in 1963. Titled simply, The Night Flatt & Scruggs Played Carnegie Hall, the single conveys a range of emotions, and reminds us that Carl Jackson is not just an award-winning producer and songwriter – he’s also one of the finest banjo players our music has ever raised up.
The song starts just like the Carnegie Hall album, with a roar from the audience, followed by the opening notes of Earl Scruggs’ kickoff to Salty Dog Blues.
It’s a good’n.