Billy Strings Plays ‘Brown’s Ferry Blues’ With Tony Trischka: Listen


Béla Fleck also plays on “Brown’s Ferry Blues,” the first song off an upcoming tribute to Scruggs, who’d have turned 100 this year

Bluegrass pioneer Earl Scruggs was born 100 years ago this week, and the tributes to the banjo picker have been many. On Friday, Tony Trischka, himself a banjo disciple of Scruggs, released a rollicking version of “Brown’s Ferry Blues,” a song dating back to the Thirties, that features an array of A-list players including Billy Strings, Béla Fleck, and Sam Bush.

Written by long-ago Grand Ole Opry stars the Delmore Brothers, “Brown’s Ferry Blues” features Strings on lead vocals, with Fleck and Trischka delivering a pair of banjo breakdowns. This version appears on Trischka’s upcoming album Earl Jam: A Tribute to Earl Scruggs. The record is a collection of songs previously performed by Scruggs and John Hartford that Trischka is resurrecting with special guests.


Trischka recalls the first time he heard Scruggs play “Brown’s Ferry Blues” well before he inherited this previously unheard batch of songs. “I heard Earl play it backstage at a show in Missouri in 2010. He had his banjo tuned to double C…and as far as I know, he’d never used this tuning on a studio or live recording,” he said. “In the various jams with John Hartford that inspired this album, however, he always played it in standard G tuning, which is the setting you’ll hear here.”

Set for release on June 7, Earl Jam also features songs with Vince Gill and Molly Tuttle. Strings, meanwhile, recently announced a new spring tour. After his winter run, which includes three nights in Nashville, the bluegrass guitarist will return to the road in April with two shows at the Yuengling Center in Tampa before hitting Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, and Illinois through May.

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