Flatt & Scruggs “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down”

I wish there was a bluegrass show on TV today. These guys took the genre to the next level. If you haven’t already, check out Jerry Douglas’ latest project/album “The Earls of Leicester,” a Flatt & Scruggs tribute band.

Behind the Tunes: “Behind-the-Scenes Star”
By Charles Haymes

Throughout my life, I have always heard the saying, ‘Behind every great man, there is a great woman.’ For banjo legend Earl Scruggs, that statement could not have been any closer to the truth. She was the first female booking agent in Nashville and without question, she used her take-charge approach to do exactly that for five decades.
Born Ann Louise Certain, she grew up in Lebanon, Tennessee. During the struggles of the Great Depression, her parents worked extremely hard just to make ends meet. As a child, Louise received a toy typewriter. This proved to be an early incentive for things to come.
Louise spent her adolescent years dreaming of a better life. Finally, her childhood wishes came true. She moved to Nashville and worked as an accountant.
She attended a Grand Ole Opry performance in 1946.. Among the artists on the show that evening were Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys. While most of the audience was shouting and screaming at Earl’s three-finger banjo style, Louise was more impressed by the then 22-year-old musician for his looks, not so much his playing. Following the show, the two met.
Realizing the potential of their own act, Earl and guitarist Lester Flatt left the Blue Grass Boys in 1948. Soon, they formed Flatt & Scruggs. Later that year, Earl and Louise married. In 1955, Louise started managing and booking Flatt & Scruggs. Immediately, she brought organization to an unorganized bluegrass field while keeping a firm hand on the duo’s pulse. And it worked. As the folk music scene became increasingly popular, Louise began booking Flatt & Scruggs on college campuses and folk festivals throughout the country.
Then, Hollywood called. In 1962, the music of Flatt & Scruggs became the opening theme for The Beverly Hillbillies, as their version of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” marked the first bluegrass song to reach number one on the country charts. In addition, Flatt & Scruggs began making occasional appearances on the CBS sitcom.
Another key event happened in 1967. The Flatt & Scruggs instrumental “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” was used as the theme for the film Bonnie and Clyde, although the tune was actually recorded in 1949. Of all of Louise’s decisions, one of the most striking was calling artist Thomas B. Allen to paint eye-catching covers for 17 of Flatt & Scruggs’ albums. As records were on store shelves, this instantly gave their albums a blend of uniqueness and individuality.
Monroe had created bluegrass music, but it was Flatt & Scruggs who set the standard of quality that we associate today with the genre. From behind the scenes, Louise was in charge. She took the duo and bluegrass music to uncharted territory.
In 1969, the legendary two-some went their sperate ways. Flatt formed the Nashville Grass, a traditional band. As for Earl, he teamed with his sons and experimented with new sounds as the Earl Scruggs Revue. Once again, Louise guided the vessel.
When the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded their ground-breaking album “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” in 1972, both Louise and Earl played a major role in assembling older musicians for the project. For the remainder of the decade, the Earl Scruggs Revue continued to be popular with the folk-rock crowd. On Feb. 2, 2006, Louise died. She was 78. Last year, Louise was inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. This was a fitting accolade for a lady who quietly helped her husband’s name become synonymous with the five-string banjo.


Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs play “You Are My Flower.” Written by Sara & Maybelle Carter (who the camera mostly ignores). The tune was inspired by Mexican music heard when the Carters were playing on Border Radio….


Feeling like a “Salty Dog” today. Flatt& Scruggs #bluegrass

A Flatt & Scruggs concert poster for the Avalon Ballroom in San Francisco, Calif. The concert hall, originally the Colin Traver Academy of Dance, became a hotspot for psychedelia during a short time in the 1960s. Artists like Big Brother & the Holding Company, The Doors, Quicksilver Messenger Service and The Butterfield Blues Band were regular performers there and the Grateful Dead recorded two live albums at the Avalon in ‘66. The two shows advertised on this particular poster were for Nov. 30 and Dec.1- 2, 1967. The Avalon Ballroom closed in 1968 and was reopened in 2003.


Flatt & Scruggs- Blue Ridge Cabin Home

When The Angels Carry Me Home
  • When The Angels Carry Me Home
  • Lester Flatt;Earl Scruggs
  • Foggy Mountain Gospel

WORSHIP SUNDAY: When the Angels Carry Me Home by Flatt & Scruggs - I featured this gospel bluegrass album a few weeks ago and have been really digging it since.  It is the most complete compilation of gospel tunes recorded by Flatt & Scruggs of the legendary bluegrass band, Foggy Mountain Boys.  Guitarist Lester Flatt and banjo player Earl Scruggs were legends of the bluegrass world, dazzling with their immense music talent and total command of their instruments.

When the Angels Carry Me Home is one of those music tracks featuring some blazing instrumental work with Scruggs on banjo.  The tune is a cover of the Charlie Monroe song (older brother of Bill Monroe, the “King of Bluegrass”), and it is a great spiritual in its own right, evoking the passage in the book of Revelation 21:

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.


“The Ballad Of Jed Clampett”, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, 1962

Happy Birthday, Lester Flatt (June 19)

  • Chinatown
  • Roger Sprung
  • Banjo Bonanza

In 1973 this strange collection of banjo tunes was released on the heals of the Dueling Banjo rage.  I believe this was one of those collections that was sold on TV commercials.  It is about half tenor banjo and half five string banjo.  I’ve designated them with a T or 5 on this list.

1. Flatt & Scruggs - The Ballad Of Jed Clampett       [02:03] 5
2. Banjo Barons - Green Green                         [01:46]T
3. Pete Seeger - This Land Is Your Land               [02:56]5
4. Roger Sprung - Puff The Magic Dragon               [02:00]5
5. Flatt & Scruggs - Gentle On My Mind                [02:35]5
6. Joe Maphis - Oh Susannah                           [02:42]T
7. Banjo Barons - Winchester Cathedral                [01:26]T
8. Banjos Are Back Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head  [02:37]T
9. Flatt & Scruggs - Folsom Prison Blues              [02:57]5
10. Banjo Barons - Yellow Rose Of Texas               [02:14]T
11. Earl Scruggs - Everybody’s Talkin’                [02:45]5
12. Joe Maphis - You Are My Sunshine                  [02:09]T
13. Flatt & Scruggs - The Story Of Bonnie & Clyde     [02:52]5
14. Roger Sprung - Tiger Rag                          [03:40]5
15. Banjo Barons - Song Sung Blue                     [03:34]T
16. Bluegrass Country Boys - Dueling Banjos           [02:15]5
17. Banjo Barons - Blowin’ In The Wind                [01:49]T
18. Joe Maphis - Camptown Races                       [02:07]T
19. Flatt & Scruggs - The Wreck Of The Old 97         [02:31]5
20. Banjos Are Back - Those Were The Days             [02:17]T
21. Banjo Barons - Goodnight Irene                    [01:21]T
22. Flatt & Scruggs - If I Were A Carpenter           [02:08]5
23. Flatt & Scruggs - Petticoat Junction              [02:29]5
24. Banjo Barons - Where Have All The Flowers Gone    [01:47]T
25. Joe Maphis - When You And I Were Young Maggie     [02:09]T
26. Flatt & Scruggs - Careless Love                   [01:55]5
27. Roger Sprung - Chinatown                          [02:29]5
28. Flatt & Scruggs - I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight       [02:20]5
29. Banjo Barons - El Paso                            [01:30]T
30. Bluegrass Country Boys - End Of A Dream           [01:48]5



Flatt & Scruggs with Maybelle Carter: “You Are My flower”

“I’d listen to some radio; mainly listened to The Carter Family and Merle Travis. I always love his picking on the guitar. Of course, Maybelle her guitar playing…she was my hero and I loved her playing and I tried to copy her. I can’t make it sound like Maybelle, but Mama Maybelle played some wonderful guitar and added some good ole country singing.” - Earl Scruggs on his influences

As noted in the comments’ section  @2:40: “when Earl looks at Maybelle and smiles it’s a verification from Maybelle that he got it right.”

You Can Feel It In Your Soul
  • You Can Feel It In Your Soul
  • Lester Flatt;Earl Scruggs
  • Foggy Mountain Gospel

WORSHIP SUNDAY: You Can Feel It In Your Soul by Flatt & Scruggs - Here is some bluegrass to kick off your Sunday morning with.  Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs joined up after playing with the legendary Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys.  From the 50’s to the 70’s, the Foggy Mountain Boys were one of the biggest and most influential bands in Bluegrass.

In that time, Flatt & Scruggs played a lot of gospel tunes over that time and most of those recordings were compiled on this album Foggy Mountain Gospel.  The song You Can Feel It In Your Soul is one of the highlights, which has that great vocal harmonization and some incredible solo guitar work.  And more importantly, it is a great Sunday message to let the Lord into your soul and feel His joy.


“The flower children are drawn to the traditional bluegrass music of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys.”

A snippet about Lester and Earl’s 1967 shows at the Avalon Ballroom from a documentary. 

Careless Love
  • Careless Love
  • Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs with Doc Watson
  • Banjo Bonanza - 30 Big Hits

In 1973 this album was released on one of those TV commercials.  Anything with “Dueling Banjos” on it was getting plenty of airplay.  This was the second big hit that sold a lot of banjos for Gibson, Vega, Fender  and all the other banjo makers of the day.  It tends to be a strange album for 5 string banjo fans though.  It is split with about half tenor banjo tunes, which is a 4 string banjo and is played with a flat pick using a strumming motion.