The Old Home Town/Earl Scruggs
Friday is a big night in bluegrass music. Earl Scruggs will be in his old hometown of Shelby, N.C. for a Homecoming concert. In the interest of historical accuracy, I might add it is really a reunion concert for Cleveland County, as Earl grew up in nearby Boiling Springs. To be exact, his old stomping ground was the Flint Hill community, which was part of Boiling Springs. The old home place still stands down near the Broad River just above the Greenway. There are some fine photos of it on the English Professor’s blog at www.tedlehmann.blogspot.com
Most bluegrass folks know the Flatt and Scruggs tune, ‘The Old Home Town.’ It starts out “Tonight my heart is lonely for the folks back home…” Bluegrass tends to be a nostalgic music and I am a nostalgic man, so I can identify with the lyrics. I guess I was a little like Jimmy Stewart in ‘A Wonderful Life.’ Home was just too powerful a draw. When I left for college I thought where I landed was sure enough a mighty big town ’cause they had an Arby’s. I came back home after school and never left again.
This is not to say my world is all egocentric though. I know I am a homebody, and believe I was supposed to be a Country Doc in a little town. At the same time my wife and I want to see a bit of the world before we are too old to go, and ‘The Mandolin Case’ is our travel ticket.
At the same time, I am not one to go unless I have people I want to see. Without the book, I doubt I would have ever ventured out to any of the rest of the world. It was my way to find others of like mind. The beauty of the book journey is that I’ve already found new friends all over the world before it is even published, and they are all just like my Harvey County pals. Bluegrass folks are the same everywhere, and I would never have ventured out without the security blanket of their network. I’m a homebody but with my people I always feel at home.
Still, I am certain after a few weeks out there I’ll go right back to the house. In my old song book compilation there is a category for ‘Songs About Wandering Away and Coming Home Again.’ ‘The Old Home Town’ is home and always will be. Like a homing pigeon I’ll always return.
There are many reasons I had to write my book, and it is a bit of a complicated story. One objective was to pay tribute to my many friends who are out there on the road. Every single human being who ever recorded a note of this music helped me through many long lonely Doctor nights. I often wandered back home in the middle of the night half exhausted. I am certain at times I would not have arrived safely if not for someone’s cassette tape blaring away in my Scout as I drove home. Many times it was Flatt and Scruggs.
Friday, June 19th, 2009, Earl Scruggs is gonna wander back to his hometown too. I’m sure gonna go. After all, Earl saved my life out on the doctor road many a night, and I owe him a debt of gratitude for it. The opening act is the Darin and Brooke Aldridge Quintet. They live in the next County over, Gaston, so they are home too. They also are a major inspiration for me. It should be the best of the legends and the best of new for a Homecoming concert no one should not miss.
If you live anywhere near Western N.C. I would make the journey. Check with Destination Cleveland County; I think there are still a few tickets left. It promises to be a historical show. Y’all wander over there, I am certain they’ll make you feel right at home.