It took a North Carolina concert for PBS's Great Performances series to get bluegrass legends Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, and Ricky Skaggs together for the first time. It was a celebratory occasion, and this live session, supersaturated with hot licks and down-home warmth, successfully captures the excitement of the unprecedented event. For all the assembled instrumental expertise, it is the traditional vocals–with Skaggs leading the way–that makes the music work. The trio opens with the lively "Feast Here Tonight," featuring scintillating sounds from Skaggs's mandolin, Scruggs's banjo, and Watson's guitar, before taking on the high, lonesome gospel of "What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul." Each member of the trio gets feature spots for his individual band, in addition to the dozen or so songs where the three combine forces. Watson is joined by grandson Richard for a couple of country blues tunes before Scruggs, reinforced by his Family and Friends, takes over for two songs, showcasing his seminal banjo technique on "Earl's Breakdown." Skaggs and his Kentucky Thunder also take center stage for two songs, and, as if the litany of legends wasn't enough, fiddler Alison Krauss even joins the trio of principals for three songs. - Michael Point
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