The Earls of Leicester – Spotlight on World of Bluegrass #1

Read about the bluegrass supergroup The Earls of Leicester

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“This record is something I’ve been waiting my whole life to do,” veteran Dobro master Jerry Douglas says of The Earls of Leicester

Jerry Douglas announces “The Earls of Leicester”
Loving Tribute To Flatt & Scruggs
Set For Release October 20, 2014 on Rounder Records

 

The Earls of Leicester is the self-titled debut album by the new all-star dream team combo that Jerry Douglas has assembled, organized and produced.

The six-man band encompasses Douglas plus acclaimed writer, producer, and solo artist Shawn Camp on lead vocals and guitar, renowned Nashville banjoist Charlie Cushman on banjo and guitars, veteran songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Hot Rize member Tim O’Brien on vocals and mandolin, second-generation fiddle phenom Johnny Warren, and Barry Bales, Douglas’ longtime bandmate in Alison Krauss and Union Station, on vocals and bass.

The new group is the product of Douglas’s lifelong passion for the music of bluegrass pioneers Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and their band the Foggy Mountain Boys, whose seminal work in the ’50s and ’60s created the template for what we know as contemporary bluegrass, and transcended traditional genre barriers to popularize the music with an unprecedented mass audience.

The punningly-titled The Earls of Leicester revisits fourteen timeless favorites from the Flatt and Scruggs songbook, infusing such rousing numbers as “Big Black Train,” “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” “Shuckin’ the Corn,” “Dig A Hole in the Meadow” and “Dim Lights, Thick Smoke” with fresh energy.

Flatt and Scruggs initially captured Douglas’s imagination when he saw them perform when he was just seven years old, and their visionary musical approach and irreverent attitude have remained constant touchstones for him in the decades since, as he’s risen to his current stature as one of the roots/acoustic music world’s most in-demand instrumentalists and today’s preeminent practitioner of the Dobro.

 

“Flatt and Scruggs were the major influence on me when I was growing up,” recalls Douglas, who was first inspired to pick up his instrument by Flatt and Scruggs’ legendary Dobroist Josh Graves. “I was around seven years old when I first saw them, and there were two or three more times after that. It had a huge impact on me. I remember the warmth of the auditorium, I remember the smell of the popcorn, I remember the outfits they were wearing. It’s still all very vivid to me, and it’s still influencing me 50 years later.

“They were miles ahead of everybody else,” he continues. “It wasn’t just their musicianship, although they could play better than anybody -it was that they had this whole different style of playing and performing and listening to each other. They were progressive musically and added all kinds of different musical elements, and at the same time they made it inclusive and entertaining and accessible to many people who didn’t know anything about country music. Flatt and Scruggs did so much to popularize bluegrass music, though they didn’t want to be pigeonholed as a bluegrass band, so they never used the word.”

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The songs were selected to focus upon the band’s most successful and innovative years, roughly from 1954 to 1965.

The same abiding musical passion that drove Douglas to create The Earls of Leicester has been a constant throughout a career that spans four decades and encompasses more than 2000 recordings.  In addition to his renown as an instrumentalist, the 13-time Grammy winner and three-time Country Music Association Musician of the Year—who’s been described as “my favorite musician” by John Fogerty and “the Muhammad Ali of the Dobro” by James Taylor—has established a reputation as a ceaselessly inventive artist who’s adept at incorporating elements of bluegrass, country, rock, jazz, blues and Celtic into his distinctive musical vision.

Douglas is distinctly excited about the future of The Earls of Leicester.

“I believe this band has the potential to have its own evolution, beyond just doing Flatt and Scruggs tunes, but this record is very, very exciting for me,” he continues. “I’m hoping people will hear it and ask ‘What’s that?’, then do some investigating and discover where this stuff came from. We have a younger audience for this kind of music now, and it is important to me that the listeners understand the origins of what they are hearing.”

 

Track listing

1. Big Black Train (2:49)
2. Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down (2:12)
3. I’ll Go Stepping Too (2:59)
4. Shuckin’ The Corn (2:07)
5. Till The End Of The World Rolls ‘Round (2:36)
6. Dig A Hole In The Meadow (2:21)
7. Some Old Day (3:43)
8. I Won’t Be Hanging Around (2:11)
9. I Don’t Care Anymore (2:37)
10. On My Mind (2:46)
11. You’re Not A Drop In The Bucket (2:27)
12. Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (3:14)
13. The Wandering Boy (2:40)
14. Who Will Sing For Me (2:32)

 

The Earls of Leicester will be performing at the Wide Open Bluegrass festival October 3 Raleigh North Carolina

 

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Read about the bluegrass supergroup The Earls of Leicester

 

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Author: Rob Dickens

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