The torch is passed

Bill Evans describes this touching tribute to Earl Scruggs from yesterday’s memorial service in Nashville.

I had the honor and privilege of attending the memorial service for Earl, held at the Ryman Auditorium on Sunday, April 1. There was one incredibly moving moment among many that took place at this service that I will remember for the rest of my life. The Scruggs family gathered a number of banjo players together and asked us to seat ourselves on either side of the center aisle, one banjo player opposite another, on the end of reach row, moving down the center aisle away from where Earl lay.

We held our banjos in front of us and as the casket passed, each of us dipped our instruments down, bringing the banjos up again as the casket moved past us. Kristin Scott Benson was on the same row, opposite me. Ned Luberecki in front of me to my right, Tony Trischka behind me to my left. Noam Pilkelny was in front of Kristin, Tim O’Brien behind her. Richard Bailey, Alison Brown, Charlie Cushman, Randy Escobedo, Warren Kennison, Jr., Dave Talbot, John McEuen and Bela Fleck, among others were up and down the aisle, lowering their instruments in tribute. After the casket was moved through the Ryman, Earl’s banjo followed, carried in a hard shell case.

I can’t express the sense of loss I feel that Earl is gone, however being in the company of so many other players who love him and have been so influenced by him was an incredibly healing experience. Earl’s spirit and music will live on in all of us and it is renewed again each time someone hears that sound and finds their lives forever changed.