Upcoming Events

No results found.

Top Results

No results found.

Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall

On December 8, 1962, as country and bluegrass music threatened to become eclipsed by more modern genres like rock ’n’ roll, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys gave the historic first bluegrass concert ever performed at Carnegie Hall.

One of the best-known acts of the “Golden Age” of bluegrass, Flatt and Scruggs—despite their traditional country sound—were able to ride the wave of the American folk revival to its peak in the 1960s with the help of their song “The Ballad of Jed Clampett,” which became the theme music to the hit TV show The Beverly Hillbillies. Their success was also propelled in large part by Earl’s wife, Louise, who became the first woman manager in the American music industry when she began managing her husband’s act. It was her business acumen and sharp understanding of musical trends that allowed Flatt and Scruggs to capitalize on the flourishing folk revival when she marketed their music through appearances at venues such as the Newport Folk Festival and a 1962 album cannily titled Folk Songs of Our Land.

The live recording that resulted from the 1962 Carnegie Hall concert is regarded as one of the finest bluegrass albums ever made, teeming with traditional staples and Flatt and Scruggs originals, some of which—oddly and especially the catchy “Martha White Theme” written to advertise Martha White baking products—were elicited by enthusiastic requests from the audience (which included fan Joan Baez).

Flatt and Scruggs would only appear together at the Hall for one more concert on April 3, 1964, but the reverberations generated by these performances can be felt in the 21st century. They’ve left their mark not only on the bluegrass and folk-music scenes in New York City and beyond, but also on pop culture favorites such as Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, whose Soggy Bottom Boys are a tribute to Scruggs and Flatt’s Foggy Mountain Boys.

Listen to Flatt and Scruggs at Carnegie Hall

Images courtesy of the Carnegie Hall Rose Archives.

Stay Up to Date