This record is something I’ve been waiting my whole life to do,’ veteran Dobro master Jerry Douglas says of Earls of Leicester, the self-titled debut album by the new all-star dream team combo that he’s assembled, organized and produced. The six-man band encompasses Douglas plus acclaimed solo artist Shawn Camp on lead vocals and guitar, renowned Nashville banjoist Charlie Cushman on banjo and guitars, 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 Earls of Leicester revisits 14 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, while maintaining the same emotional authenticity, instrumental expertise and vibrant creative spirit that made the original versions such enduring classics.
Saturday, September 30, 2023