23 August 2023

Before the Interstate, the quickest way to get from Nashville to anywhere in North Carolina was to take ‘old highway 40.’ That means on any given day at least a hundred country music stars would be on that road driving to or from their gigs. It was a two-lane road in those days. Slow going. Especially if you got behind a tractor, of which there were many because of the farms along the way. But I bet you dollars to doughnuts that at each one of those farms you'd find a country music fan. These country folk know their country music. So when Old Eddie Parker answered the front door that Spring day, he recognised who was standing opposite him. Why, none other than banjo superstar Earl Scruggs. ‘Sorry to bother you, Mister, but we broke down and I’m wondering if you can help us. We’ve got a concert to get to in Charlotte.’ Old Eddie and his sons, Young Eddie and Eddie, Jr., grabbed their tools and headed for car while Earl and the band waited inside the house. Grandma Parker said, ‘You boys must be starving,’ and proceeded to lay out a feast to beat the band. Ask anyone, it’s legendary. At some point one of the Eddies poked his head in the door and said, ‘Mister Scruggs, we fixed your car and will have you on your way in no time.’ Earl offered Old Eddie Parker some cash but he refused. ‘Happy to help. Now get going before you miss your show.’ From that day forward, every time Earl and the band were driving Old Highway 40 they’d call in at the Parker Farm and say hello. ‘You’re always welcome around our table,’ said Old Eddie. Earl and Co. made it a point to play a song or two for them after dinner, the last number invariably Earl’s biggest hit, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Funnily enough, each year there were more and more people around the table. ‘Extended family,’ said Grandma Parker. So many, in fact, that extra tables had to be set up in the adjacent room and, later, out the door onto the porch and across the lawn. While the band was playing a hat was passed round and the guests stuffed it with dollar bills. Rumour has it Earl gave that money to Old Eddie who gave it to local farm families who fallen on hard times. So this is how it came to pass that for many years, people along that particular stretch of Old Highway 40 were treated to an up-close-and-personal performance by none other than the inventor of the famous ‘three finger’ banjo style, known throughout the world as ‘Scruggs style,’ As in Earl. You just can't make this stuff up. (Photo by Andy Craig)  

September 2023 
1st Didmarton Bluegrass Festival, Gloucestershire (Brooks & Dan Walsh)   
8th-9th Swallow Theatre, Newton Stewart, Dumfries & Galloway (Brooks & Dan Walsh) 
14th Old Riverport Jazz & Blues Festival, The Oliver Cromwell, St Ives, Cambridgeshire (Brooks SOLO!) 
16th Millenium Hall, Moreton (Brooks & Dan Walsh) 
21st The Institute, Laxey, Isle Of Man (Brooks & Aaron Catlow) 
22nd St Edith’s Folk Club, Sevenoaks (Brooks & Aaron Catlow) 
23rd Elm Farm Music, Swannington (Brooks & Aaron Catlow) 
24th Axbridge Town Hall, Somerset (Brooks & Aaron Catlow) 
30th The Sound Box, Chester, Cheshire (Brooks SOLO!) 
October 2023 
6th-7th Costa del Folk, Portugal (Brooks & Dan Walsh) 
15th Music At The Point, Grace First Presbyterian Church, Long Beach, CA USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
28th Concert, Keighley, West Yorkshire (Brooks SOLO!) 
November 2023 
2nd Private Concert, Long Island USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
3rd Folkus Project, Syracuse, NY USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
4th Six On The Square, Oxford, NY USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
5th Sailing Into Song, Newton, MA USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
8th Coffeehouse Series, Anomaly Brewing, Berwick, PA USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
10th Six String Concerts, Bronwynn Theater, McConnell Arts Center, Worthington, OH USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
11th Private Concert, Pittsburgh, PA USA (Brooks SOLO!) 
December 2023 
4th The Lightship, Blyth, Northumberland (Brooks SOLO!) 
5th House Concert, South Shields, Tyne and Wear (Brooks SOLO!) 
7th Sheffield University, Sheffield (Brooks & Aaron Catlow) 
(Photo: Someone sent me this photo but I didn't make a note of who took it!) 

The mighty Aaron Catlow and I have a few more gigs in 2023 and we hope you'll join us! See our gigs HERE. We've been making a new recording as well. I have it on good authority that it's called Greens And Blues - you saw it here first! - and it's coming out in January 2024. Here's little taste of one of the songs called Anniesland. WATCH. (Photo by Andy Craig) 

Rab Noakes last recording, Should We Tell Him: Songs By Don Everly, is out this week on limited edition CD or Download. A must for any friends and fans of the late-great Rab Noakes! Get it HERE. (Photo by Kris Kesiak)

This version of BELFAST BLUES is from my 1996 album, Knife Edge. I was reminded of it the other day when writing some recollections for an upcoming article on Leo Kottke in Fretboard Journal. Knife Edge is out-of-print, so just in case you don't have it, I want to give it to you to add to your Brooks Playlist. Use the code at the bottom of the email to get your mp3.