Foggy Mountain Breakdown by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs - This is the instrumental by which the skill of any banjoist is judged. It is the equivalent of playing Eruption for the rock guitarist. This is one of the all-time classic bluegrass tunes and was selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion in the National Recording Registry.
This is an odd recording. Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs broke up in 1969. This recording came out in 1973, it may have been a case of them owing the record company a release when they split. If my memory serves me right the album has instrumentals by Earl and vocal numbers by Lester.
This one is available digitally so I’ll consider this post an digital downloads. I recommend finding it at a high bit rate.
“Ground Speed” - Earl Scruggs with the Foggy Mountain Boys
When Porter Wagoner passed away in 2007 I was certain the sadness I felt that day and the weeks that followed would never be matched by the passing of any other artist. Until Earl Scruggs left us in 2012, and then George Jones last spring.
Porter might have wore the rhinestones, but Earl Scruggs was the rhinestone of all Bluegrass musicians. Boy, when Earl shared the stage with Uncle Josh Graves on dobro … Well, it kind of makes me wonder why anyone else ever learned to play those instruments.
Anyway, today would’ve been Earl’s 90th birthday. And I’m just as fascinated with his banjo pickin’ today as I was when I first heard it. If there is a Heaven and I make it there someday, I sure hope “Pike County Breakdown” is the first thing I hear when I reach the Pearly Gates.