CMH RECORDS (County. Music. Heritage.) maintains a rich history of classic country and bluegrass albums and is honoring several of these legacy releases by remastering them and making them available in digital format for the first time ever. The latest in this series of releases, Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass’ Pickin’ Time, is out digitally today, June 16 making this consequential recording available now to a wide audience.
This album, recorded over 30 years into Flatt’s career, represents his final recording, showcasing the talent and heart he had as an artist until the very end. Flatt’s backing band, The Nashville Grass, features a young pre-fame Marty Stuart on guitar and banjo, as well as several other accomplished bluegrass musicians such as Kenny Ingram on banjo, Clarence “Tater” Tate on fiddle, and Curly Seckler on guitar.
Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass’ Pickin’ Time is available to stream here.
Bluegrass fans are most familiar with singer, guitarist, mandolinist and songwriter Lester Flatt through his work with Earl Scruggs in the groundbreaking bluegrass duo Flatt and Scruggs. The two were not only majorly successful in their lifetimes but are considered essential performers of the genre by bluegrass historians and received the honor of induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985.
Formed in 1969 after the breakup of his seminal duo, Flatt’s own ensemble The Nashville Grass consisted of some of the finest bluegrass performers in Nashville, including several who had previously supported Flatt and Scruggs as the Foggy Mountain Boys. The Nashville Grass would also prove to be a launching pad for a teenaged Marty Stuart who would go on to fame as a solo artist in his own right. No mere footnote in his discography, Flatt’s later recording career consists of some essential works, the culmination of several decades of picking. Flatt had a life in music ever since he first supported “father of bluegrass” Bill Monroe in 1945 and he carried many lessons with him along the way.
His final album Pickin’ Time, recorded for CMH in 1978, just a year before he passed, is stacked with heartfelt ballads, brilliant instrumentals, and Flatt revisiting some old country classics, all captured with expert clarity and warmth. All the while, Flatt’s voice heartily slides across the melody with trademark charm and wit while his fingers pluck the six-string with as great precision as ever.
CMH Records has several original Lester Flatt recordings in its back catalogue, including Heaven’s Bluegrass Band, A Living Legend, and Fantastic Pickin’ as well as two later compilations: The Essential Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass and Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass: Essential Bluegrass Gospel.
Founded in 1975 by Martin Haerle, CMH Records has released albums from artists whose monumental influence on American roots music is unparalleled. The label is responsible for essential recordings throughout the 70s and 80s by bluegrass, old time and traditional country music legends such as Merle Travis, The Osborne Brothers, Mac Wiseman, Joe Maphis, Jim & Jesse McReynolds, Grandpa Jones, Lester Flatt and Eddie Adcock. Throughout the ‘90s and into the new millennium, CMH Records continued to cut records with artists such as Wanda Jackson (aka “The Queen of Rockabilly”), Raul Malo, Larry Cordle, Pine Mountain Railroad, Jimmy Gaudreau, and many others. Producing songs rich in American heritage by artists with their own distinct style created a strong backbone and history for the label.
The label remains a proud family business, now run by Martin’s son David. Described by the Los Angeles Times as a “stubborn, curious Silver Lake music company,” the label has been a strong proponent for honest music and has found success with its classic catalog and its ongoing “Pickin’ On” series, which features bluegrass interpretations of contemporary artists, including recent hit albums dedicated to the music of Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Modest Mouse. The Times piece added that CMH “meets unsung needs in the music industry” and cited its “creative diversification.”
Track List for Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass’ Pickin’ Time:
1. It’s Pickin’ Time
2. Goin’ Up On Black Mountain
3. I Love You Until I Am Dizzy
4. Bluegrass Shuffle
5. Cabin On the Hill
6. We Don't Care What Mama Allow
7. Uncle Billy Play Your Fiddle for Me
8. If You Ain’t Tried It Don't Knock It
9. I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight
10. On My Mind
11. Auction Sale
12. Little Brown Church (In the White Oak Grove)