With the bluegrass genre being the way it is at times, the battle over the heart of the original bluegrass sound never ends. Roots and branches of the genre keep the music alive and interesting, yet there are those that only cling to the first-generation bluegrass groove that got the music off the ground in the 1940s. In the twenty-first century, enter the Earls Of Leicester, an all-star outfit specifically built to recreate the music of the legendary Flatt & Scruggs from the 1950s and ’60s.
When the band formed one year after Earl Scruggs’ death in 2012, they became successful right away and received a lot of press while playing the music of their heroes. That’s when the inevitable “bluegrass backlash” kicked in with other musicians touting how they had been playing Flatt & Scruggs songs for years. While true, one look at the The Earls’ amazing lineup, plus the fact that they play nothing butFlatt & Scruggs tunes, rightfully sent them to the top of the heap.
Live At The CMA Theaterincludes 27 songs recorded at the Country Music Hall Of Fame and features over ten cuts not found on The Earls’ first two albums. What is awesome about this recording is you get to hear why Charlie Cushman is one of the best, yet most underrated banjo pickers in the world. Add to that the channeling of Lester Flatt by Shawn Camp and the mastery of instrumentalists Jerry Douglas, Barry Bales, Johnny Warren, and Jeff White, and you get a live album full of good-natured fun and new blood pumped into the Flatt & Scruggs legacy. (Rounder Records, 1 Rounder Way, Burlington, MA 01803, www.rounder.com.)DH