Tony Trischka will be honoring the music of Earl Scruggs, pioneer of the three-finger banjo style and one of the two most important musicians in bluegrass.
Trischka recently came into possession of extremely rare recordings of jam sessions with Scruggs and John Hartford, and he’s transcribed and recorded Scruggs’s note-for-note solos from many of these. Many songs that Earl had never recorded.
An album of this music is in production with a new label formed by some of the founders of Rounder Records and includes a number of bluegrass luminaries.
Together with his ace band—Michael Daves on vocals and guitar, bassist Jared Engel, fiddler Brittany Haas, and mandolinist Maddie Witler— they will trace the story of Scruggs from his childhood to his final years. They debuted at Joe’s Pub in New York City which drew lots of interest including an appearance on the Opry, a rarity for a banjo player these days.
“Earl is my North Star, a lifetime pathway. And I’m not alone,” says Trischka, a banjo innovator and educator who has influenced everyone from Béla Fleck to Steve Martin. “Through his music, this shy kid from Flint Hill, North Carolina went on to enrich countless thousands of lives. At the age of 13, when I first heard 16 notes of Scruggs style banjo playing, I put down my folk guitar and mercilessly pestered my parents to buy me a banjo. Once in my hands, that 5-string became my obsession and has been for close to 60 years.”
He adds, “The depth of his genius becomes ever more apparent when I transcribe his solos, which I’ve been doing my entire musical life and with renewed vigor. Discovering new twists and turns in his playing is pure joy and in fact the inspiration for this tribute show and the album.”