Bluegrass music is no doubt in an era of stretching forward and sideways with musicians carving out new spaces, just like the founders in the 1940s. However, the new album by Carnegie Tradition reaches backward to revisit those earlier days when the music was making its way with A Tribute to Flatt and Scruggs.
If you don’t recognize the name of the group, you will recognize the frontman, Wayne Taylor (the Country Current legend, not the Blue Highway legend). While groups like the Earls of Leicester have revisited the music of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to great success in the last few years, Carnegie Tradition has made this one-off focused on the legendary and much-lauded Flatt and Scruggs performance at Carnegie Hall in New York City back in 1962.
Taylor, who spent 21 of his 25 years in the U.S. Navy playing in the branch’s bluegrass band, Country Current, plays the role well. While one might not have thought of his lead singing and rhythm guitar as resembling Flatt, it is hauntingly close at times.
While banjo player Donnie Little doesn’t try to pull an exact copy of Scruggs—no one can—his bounce and speed add a nice modern touch. Ronnie Black adds mandolin and vocals.
Warren Yates, maker of the line of monster banjos bearing his name, adds bass and vocals. Little plays the Yates “Carnegie” model on the album. Rounding out the band is IBMA dual-instrument title holder Ron Stewart on fiddle and David Johnson on Dobro.
There are some great takes among the 13 tracks such as “Salty Dog Blues,” “Down the Road,” “Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” and “Sally Goodin’.” All that’s missing is “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.”
Fans who have been waiting to hear more from the prolific Taylor will certainly enjoy this effort.