Posted tagged ‘Don Gibson’

Earl Scruggs and Family at the Don Gibson Theater

December 6, 2010

        Earl Scruggs and his sons Gary and Randy, along with Horace Scruggs’ son Elam and Grand Ole Opry staff fiddler Hoot Hester took the stage at the Don Gibson theater in Earl’s hometown of Shelby, N.C. on Saturday, December 3, 2010 to share music and family stories with the home folks. It was like we were kin come to visit with an invitation to a private family picking session in the front room where the family opens up Christmas presents.

        The historic event was recorded by professional media. I feel certain the footage will be available for the public in the new Earl Scruggs Museum slated to open next year in Shelby.  

        There were old stories of growing up on the farm, the discovery of the three finger style, picking sessions over on Lilly Mill Hill, Earl’s first one hundred-dollar payday (“we thought we’d struck it rich”) and tales of two hundred-dollar ’41 Chevrolets.

        There was “Sally Goodin,” (it was an audition tune when Bill Monroe hired Earl) “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” (Earl played with Dylan along the way) and stories of bluegrass festivals, Carnegie Hall, and rock ‘n roll shows with the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. They told of Louise Scruggs’ negotiation skills, and of T.V. shows (“The Beverly Hillbillies”) and calls from Warren Beatty and movie scores. (“Bonnie and Clyde”)

       It was tales of country breakfasts of cow’s milk and liver mush at Uncle Horace’s and an order of “gravy boys” at Nashville restaurants. Mother Maybelle Carter was a babysitter for Gary and Randy along the way. Lester and Earl named their band “The Foggy Mountain Boys” after the old Carter Family tune “Foggy Mountain Top.” They picked “The Wildwood Flower” in their honor.

      My wife noticed it first. “Look at Elam’s hands on that guitar. They look just like Horace’s.” She was right. 

        Mark this date in your bluegrass history book: December 8, 1945. Fifty-five years ago Earl debuted on the Opry with Bill Monroe. Most people consider it the official birthday of bluegrass music.

        As we drove back home, I couldn’t help but contemplate what it all meant. This theater and the new museum are in the home of both Earl Scruggs and Don Gibson. My goodness. Shelby, N.C. was wise to decide to document this for all time. As Lester Flatt used to say (paraphrased) “Some kinds of music come and go, but in this music folks are fans for life.”

        I am glad the town of Shelby, N.C. chose to validate that. It will be good for their tourism, but even more important, it will serve as a major documentation of the roots and history of traditional music for all time, and that is far more important.

Dr. B