Memories and Future Dreams: Thank You Earl!

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Posted by Steve Johnson; Upland, CA on July 25, 19101 at 22:07:53:

I can still remember my joy, fascination, and excitement when I first heard the original recording of Foggy Mountain Breakdown (1948 Mercury Cut) during the Summer of '72, when I first decided to learn how to play the 5-string banjo at age 12. My touch was raw and my ears untrained. But, even then, Earl's incomparable timing and phrasing and clarity and separation of tones were evident to a young upstart.

I return frequently to this classic cut. Yes, indeed, it may be overplayed at Festivals and may unintentially out-shine many of Earl's and others' oustanding works. However, each time I hear this number I discern something fresh and exciting in Earl's playing. It inspires me to maintain our music and our tradition, and to return to my own creativity. Driving on a vacation last March, I saw the joy in my little girl's eyes as she tried to pretend she was playing the fiddle break on the recording. And, so, I envision a dream of starting what Lester called "the oldest band" such as did Earl Scruggs and Paul Warren many years ago.

Thanks, Earl, for your distinctive contributions, for your appreciation for the new and the old in American music, and for your warmth and humility in sharing your vast talent with us.

Warmly and With Great Respect,

Steven H. Johnson
Former Professional Banjoist,
Now Enthusiast and Daddy

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