When I came home from work tonight, returning from an evening of listening to, and visiting with Spider John Koerner at the bar, I glanced at my computer screen I saw the news that Earl Scruggs has passed away.
I can think of no finer obit for earl than this piece that appeared earlier this year in The New Yorker written by Steve Martin, a fine banjo picker in his own right.
On a more personal note, a memory brought to mind upon seeing the news:
I was back 35 years ago, to a steep two-lane blacktop road, hurtling downhill in a converted International Harvester schoolbus, with overhanging trees overhead, their exposed rocky roots flying by on my left, nothing but a sheer drop on the right, barreling downhill just a few hours from our destination, the Old Time Fiddlers Convention at Union Grove North Carolina.
Then, and here’s the good part, while most passengers were praying our driver would continue his downshifting and, with much muscle and concentration, please, please, “slow this bitch down”, one passenger had the good sense to slip some Flatt and Scruggs into the box and as that music filled our bus, our anxieties drained away, and that menacing blacktop became a black silk ribbon we were gliding along on, the trees closely overhanging us became an emerald bower, and the precipice to our right, one gorgeous vista of The Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains.
The song was Foggy Mountain Breakdown and hearing it now puts me right back on the bus.