NS2 & CMH present:
The Earls Of Leicester
37 John Street
Charleston, South Carolina, 29403
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:00 PM
The Earls Of Leicester
When the Earls of Leicester formed in 2013, their mission was ambitious but exact: to preserve and promote the legacy of bluegrass legends Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, in hopes of reviving the duoâs music for longtime admirers and introducing a new generation to their genre-defining sound. Within a year of releasing their self-titled debut, the Nashville-based six-piece far surpassed their own expectations, winning a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album and earning six awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Now, with their first live album, Earls of Leicester offer up a selection of songs that fully capture the pure joy and supreme musicianship that propel their every performance.
Recorded over two nights at Nashvilleâs CMA Theater, The Earls of Leicester Live at The CMA Theater in The Country Music Hall of Fame bears a boundless vitality that makes songs from over a half-century ago feel irresistibly fresh. Despite the bandâs painstaking precision in recreating the catalog of Flatt and Scruggsâs Foggy Mountain Boys, the album unfolds with an easy warmth that honors the essence of traditional bluegrass, which Douglas describes as âmusic that was meant to be played on back porches.â Earls of Leicester Live is also accompanied by a DVD that shows the complete splendor of their live set: the throwback attire, the off-the-cuff but illuminating between-song banter, the relentless hotfooting required of their stage setup. âOur goal is to go out and reacquaint everybody with the music of Flatt and Scruggs just the way they did it, which means fewer microphones and a good amount of choreography,â says Douglas. âWeâre trying to put as much as we can into the music before it even reaches the speakers.â
Made up entirely of songs from 1954 to 1965, Earls of Leicester Live combines classic tunes with more obscure numbers unearthed thanks to the bandâs encyclopedic familiarity with Flatt and Scruggsâs body of work. To that end, the setlist includes notorious crowd-pleasers like âMartha White Theme Songâ (originally penned as a jingle for Martha White Self-Rising Flour) and âFoggy Mountain Breakdownâ (a breakneck-paced, banjo-driven instrumental popularized thanks to its use in Bonnie and Clyde), as well as the harmony-laced âYou Can Feel It in Your Soulâ and the sweetly crooning âAll I Want Is You.â Earls of Leicester Live also serves up several tracks integral to Flatt and Scruggs legendâincluding âIâm Gonna Sleep with One Eye Open,â a song famously banned from the Grand Ole Opryâalong with more oddball offerings like the gracefully sprawling two-part instrumental âSteel Guitar Blues/Spanish Two Step.â And in one of the albumâs most poignant moments, the Earls of Leicester deliver the wistfully lilting âReunion in Heavenââa song the band performed at Foggy Mountain Boys mandolin player/vocalist Curly Secklerâs gravesite earlier this year, as per Secklerâs personal request.
Throughout Earls of Leicester Live, the band wholeheartedly channels the spirit of Flatt and Scruggs while allowing each memberâs distinct charm and singular musicality to shine through. And though their unbridled passion instantly stirs up a freewheeling energy, a closer listen reveals the profound mastery of skill infused into each performance. âThis is the result of years and years of trying out different instruments, different string gauges, different techniques to try to create these sounds,â Douglas notes. In that process, he adds, the Earls of Leicester eventually dug up decades-old instruments in order to achieve the ideal texture and tone they were seeking. âEverybody in the band plays something old,â says Douglas. âThis music just sounds so much more true to form when itâs played on old instruments.â
For Douglasâa 14-time Grammy Award-winner who founded the Earls of Leicester and produces all their materialâthat approach builds on a lifelong dedication to studying the music of Flatt and Scruggs. Soon after hearing the Foggy Mountain Boys at age seven, he devoted himself to deconstructing their recordings, paying particular attention to the captivating Dobro work of Josh Graves. âI remember sitting by the record player and trying to figure out what Josh Graves was doing,â he says. âThere was no one to teach me, so I just had to listen.â
Douglas attended a number of Flatt and Scruggs concerts as a kid, and later played with each musician on separate occasions. Although his own prolific career as a musician and producer has kept him more than occupied over the yearsâincluding appearing on more than 1,600 albums, recording with the likes of Ray Charles, Dolly Parton, and Elvis CostelloâDouglas was unable to shake his vision of one day revisiting the music of Flatt and Scruggs. âI probably could have stayed focused on everything else Iâve got going on, but this just haunted me,â he says.
As Douglas points out, the most crucial factor in forming the Earls of Leicester was replicating the lightning-in-a-bottle chemistry that long fueled Flatt and Scruggs. âI looked for years to find the group I needed for the alchemy to work,â he says. In the end, Douglas landed on the lineup of Shawn Camp (Garth Brooks, Blake Shelton), Jeff White (Vince Gill, Loretta Lynn), Charlie Cushman (Jimmy Martin, Mel Tillis), Johnny Warren (son of Foggy Mountain Boysâ Paul Warren), and Barry Bales (Alison Krauss & Union Station)âand found himself beyond floored by their immediate synergy. âI had to stop the band in the middle of the first song, because I was scared to keep goingâit felt like Flatt and Scruggs were going to jump right out of the wall,â he says in reflecting on their first meeting. âIâd hoped it was going to be even half that good, and it ended up just taking my breath away.â
With The Earls of Leicester arriving on New Yearâs Day in 2014âand later amassing its many accolades, including Album of the Year at the 2015 International Bluegrass Music Association Awardsâthe band released their acclaimed sophomore album Rattle & Roar in July 2016 and, at the 2017 IBMA Awards, took home the Entertainer of the Year prize for the third year in a row. But for Douglas, the most rewarding aspect of Earls of Leicester lies in playing for a live audience and witnessing their reaction firsthand. âOne of the biggest payoffs for me is playing this music for younger people, and watching them fall in love with it,â he says. âAnd even better than that is having the older folks come up to me and tell me, âI never thought Iâd get to hear that music again.â Thatâs when I know when weâve really done our job.â
On Earls of Leicester Live, that generation-spanning appeal is undeniable, with the bandâs sheer delight and wonder as infectious as each indelible melody. And as the Earls of Leicester transport the audience into a much simpler era, the album ultimately fosters a tender connection with the past, a sense of promise for the future, and a newfound solace in the present moment. âThis music conjures up my childhoodâit drops me off into a kinder, gentler place, and I think it should do that for everybody,â says Douglas. âWhen people come to see us, we want them to forget about the outside world and all the stress or strife that goes along with it, and hopefully hold onto that feeling for a while even after the showâs over.â
Public on sale: Friday, April 12 at 10AM EST
Dinner Add-On option available for an additional $32
Call for reservations after purchasing Dinner Add-On option
Dinner at Vincent Chicco's - (843) 203-3002
Dinner at Virginia's on King - (843) 735-5800
Tickets can also be purchased at Music Hall Box Office:
37 John Street (843) 853-2252 | Monday â Thursday (12pm - 6pm) Friday (10am â 6pm)
Ticketfly Hotline: (877) 987-6487 | Everyday (10 am - 9 pm)