Steve Martin on Earl Scruggs; Merle Haggard Hospitalized; Taylor Swift Lands Vogue Cover
Juli Thanki | January 18th, 2012
Steve Martin wrote a fine piece on Earl Scruggs for the New Yorker. An excerpt: The banjo lends itself to showing off: it’s often played fast and thrillingly, fingers flying up and down the neck, the right hand connecting to the left with seemingly impossible accuracy. But Earl always remembered his mother’s advice when he was a boy: “Play something that has a tune to it.” His first and last priority was to make music, which keeps his sound melodic and accessible. Yet, even professional players today say, “How did he do that?” It is not easy to make the melody note land in the right place when rolling three fingers over five strings, but Earl could syncopate, “bend” a string—which caused one note to move unbroken into another—and he could audibly retune the banjo in the middle of a song, leading to the invention of a mechanical device called “Scruggs’ pegs.” Earl knew when and how to surprise the heck out of the listener.
Merle Haggard was hospitalized before a show in Macon, Georgia last night after being sick for, according to his manager, about a week. Three shows have been canceled.
George Jones, Billy Joe Shaver, Lucinda Williams, and more appear on this Squidbillies album. Go download your favorite tracks for free.
Doc Watson and David Holt had a chat with Mike Melia from PBS NewsHour’s blog.
Taylor Swift is Vogue’s newest cover girl. Here’s an excerpt from the article: “[F]or a certain audience, her music and her look are stuck in teenage gear. Which is why it comes as a nice surprise to discover just how sharp she is. She is clever and funny and occasionally downright bawdy as we ride around town with a small entourage on this hot fall day, visiting designer showrooms. Indeed, one of the first things she mentions is the infamous honey-badger clip on YouTube that features a deadpan obscenity-laced narration. Swift knows every line—though she asks if her cursing can be off the record. She may be edgier than her image suggests, but she is not Courtney Love. She has a deeply ingrained sense of appropriateness. She also knows her audience—and knows that they aren’t ready for her to grow up quite yet.”
The trial began in Garth Brooks’ lawsuit against an Oklahoma hospital. Brooks alleges that he donated money with the understanding that one of the hospital’s new buildings would be named after his late mother.
Juli Thanki is the editor of Engine 145 and a freelance writer whose work has appeared in the Washington Post, Bluegrass Unlimited, and M Music & Musicians Magazine. In 2011 she received the International Bluegrass Music Association Print Media Person of the Year award.