Tony Trischka Releases Sweeping, Star-Studded Collection For His Hero With Earl Jam: A Tribute To Earl Scruggs

Article Contributed by IVPR | Published on Friday, June 7, 2024

In the height of lockdown in 2020, banjo extraordinaire Tony Trischka received a mysterious package in his mailbox that would significantly change his next few years. Its contents: one USB drive full of rare recordings of Earl Scruggs jamming with John Hartford, mostly taken from private gatherings at Earl’s house during the 80s and 90s. Naturally, Trischka began pouring over the more than 200 songs, transcribing the all-new solos, tones, and tricks from the man he’d been studying for over half a century. Inspired, he featured a number of these pieces as part of an overview of Earl’s career, premiering the concept at the venerable Joe's Pub in New York City. When Down The Road’s Ken Irwin heard a recording of the show, he and Trischka agreed there should be an album of this unique material.

Today, Trischka released the project dubbed Earl Jam: A Tribute To Earl Scruggs on Irwin’s Down The Road record label to the delight of bluegrass fans worldwide. Names like Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan, Del McCoury, and Darol Anger fill the album liner notes next to those of Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings, Brittany Haas, Dominick Leslie, and Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, creating a cross-generational, genre-spanning band of, let’s face it, a heaping of the best pickers alive today; all in tribute to the pioneer who would’ve been 100 years old this year.

Fans can stream or purchase Earl Jam: A Tribute To Earl Scruggs today at this link and be sure to check out Trischka’s Earl Jam Band tour dates below. In-studio performance videos of Earl Jam tracks and more can be found on Trischka’s YouTube channel, as well.

Earl Jam Tracklisting:

Side One

1. Brown’s Ferry Blues (feat. Billy Strings)

2. San Antonio Rose

3. Chinese Breakdown

4. My Horses Ain’t Hungry

5. Roll On Buddy

6. Freight Train Blues

7. Casey Jones

Side Two

1. Dooley (feat. Molly Tuttle)

2. Cripple Creek

3. Amazing Grace

4. Lady Madonna

5. Bury Me Beneath the Willow (feat. Vince Gill)

6. Shout Little Lulu

7. Little Liza Jane

8. Amazing Grace - Postlude

Catch Tony Trischka’s Earl Jam On Tour:

June 7 - Amherst, MA - The Drake

June 8 - Cambridge, MA - Club Passim

June 13 - New York, NY - Joe’s Pub

June 16 - Palisade, CO - Palisade Bluegrass & Roots Festival

June 28 - Old Saybrook, CT - The Kate

June 29 - Great Barrington, MA - The Guthrie Center

June 30 - Bethlehem, PA - Godfrey Daniels

Aug 18 - Upper Salford Township, PA - Philadelphia Folk Festival

Aug. 30 - Brunswick, ME - Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival

Aug. 31 - Clarendon, VT - Kingsley Grist Mill National Historic Site

Sept. 7 & 8 - Remus, MI - Wheatland Music and Arts Festival

Sept. 21 - Louisville, KY - Bourbon & Beyond Festival

Oct. 12 - Big Stone Gap, VA - Blue Highway Fest

For future dates and ticket information, please visit

About Tony Trischka: Tony Trischka has over the past half-century garnered a reputation as one of the most influential figures in roots music. “[I]n fiddle- and fret-conscious circles from Nashville to Groton, Massachusetts, [Trischka] is known as the father of modern bluegrass,” wrote the New York Times. As a banjoist he set new standards for genre-bending virtuosity, inspiring legions of younger players, among them Béla Fleck. Through his tireless efforts as an educator and such divergent projects as his collaborations with his friend and fellow banjoist Steve Martin, and the visionary exploration of Civil War history on his recent album, Shall We Hope he’s helped to elevate and transform his chosen instrument’s profile within American culture.

Born in 1949 in Syracuse and raised in a home filled with music, he fell in love with the banjo through the Kingston Trio’s 1959 recording of “M.T.A.” Trischka moved to New York City in the early ’70s and released his landmark solo debut, Bluegrass Light, on the Rounder label in 1974, synthesizing everything from bluegrass and country to psychedelic pop, modal and free jazz and fusion. Many other milestone albums followed, including 1983’s A Robot Plane Flies Over Arkansas, which refined the eclecticism of Bluegrass Light; and 1993’s World Turning, a global history of the banjo that ignited Marc Fields’ comprehensive 2011 documentary, Give Me the Banjo, which Steve Martin narrated and for which Trischka served as musical director and co-producer.  

Trischka’s Grammy-nominated album Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, released in 2007, and Great Big World, from 2014, feature a mix of veterans and up-and-coming luminaries. He produced Martin’s Grammy-nominated Rounder album from 2011, Rare Bird Alert, which touts performances by the Steep Canyon Rangers, Paul McCartney, and the Chicks. Through his theme song for Books on the Air and performances on A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage, From Our Front Porch, and other programs, Trischka has been a frequent presence on NPR. In addition to his Grammy nominations, he’s earned numerous honors, including the International Bluegrass Music Award for Banjo Player of the Year, as well as being named a United States Artists Friends Fellow.  

About Down The Road: Exceleration Music, the prominent global independent music company dedicated to advancing the future of independent music, has announced a strategic partnership with the pioneering founders of Rounder Records - widely considered one of the premiere American indie labels of the past 50 years - on their new venture Down The Road.

The strategic partnership brings together the expertise of the original leadership team who founded Rounder Records in 1970 - Ken Irwin, Marian Leighton Levy, and Bill Nowlin, as well as the label’s first and long-standing President/CEO, John Virant - with Exceleration Music’s partners and leadership team. Irwin, Levy, Nowlin, and Virant led Rounder Records together for 40 years, steering their roster to over 40 Grammy wins during that time. The label was responsible for a broad range of genre-defining releases across many musical styles.