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Volume 24, Number 8 — August 2017

Earls of Leicester bring bluegrass to ETSU

Earls of Leicester perform at East Tennessee State University, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m.
Earls of Leicester perform at East Tennessee State University, Feb. 19 at 7:30 p.m.

January 27, 2016

Jerry Douglas was about 7 when he first saw Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs perform live. Half a century later, Douglas, now a world-renowned Dobro master, has assembled what he calls a bluegrass "all-star dream team" to honor and rejuvenate the Flatt and Scruggs standards.

In the 1940s-"60s, Flatt, Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys propelled "string-heavy mountain music into a modern vernacular," says The Bluegrass Situation.

Having made its on-stage debut in 2014, Jerry Douglas Presents The Earls of Leicester a bit of wordplay with the legends' first names are, according to Bluegrass Today, "new bluegrass royalty."

Between travels with their respective bands, Jerry Douglas presents The Earls of Leicester at ETSU's Martha Street Culp Auditorium, Johnson City, Tenn., Friday, Feb. 19, at 7:30 p.m. The ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band opens the show.

The Earls include Douglas on dobro, Shawn Camp on lead vocals and guitar, Barry Bales on bass and vocals, Charlie Cushman on banjo and guitar and Johnny Warren on fiddle. Bales is a Kingsport native, an ETSU alumnus and a former ETSU bluegrass faculty member.

"You expect a band of superstars to be fantastic, but these ... guys go far beyond that superlative," says David Morris in his Bluegrass Today review of the group's self-titled and recently Grammy-winning CD.

The Earls of Leicester project had been on Douglas' mind for years and the recording, he says, was "something I've been waiting my whole life to do."

"It's time to re-introduce that sound back into bluegrass music or bring it back into the consciousness of the general public," he says in Rolling Stone Country.

"Flatt and Scruggs were the major influence on me when I was growing up ... and it's still influencing me 50 years later," Douglas tells Cybergrass.com. "Much of my motivation was selfish, because I just wanted to hear this sound again. It took me a long time to find the right people who could pull it off and make it sound authentic and not corny, and make you feel like you're listening to Flatt and Scruggs during those years."

Tickets are $12 for students of all ages with ID, $25 seniors 60 and over and $30 general admission.

For more information or tickets, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call 423-439-8587.

Topics: Music