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Wed, May 15th 2024
An older gentleman with long white hair playing an instrument outside

Event info

Wed, May 15th 2024
6:00 PM
The Center Theater
$ 73.00 - $ 148.00
Presented by: The Center logo

Fifteen-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Ricky Skaggs’ career is easily among the most significant in recent country music history. If Skaggs’ burgeoning trophy case full of awards wasn’t already enough evidence of that fact, consider that legendary guitarist Chet Atkins once credited Skaggs with “single-handedly saving country music.” His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.Born July 18, 1954 in Cordell, Kentucky, Skaggs showed signs of future stardom at an early age, playing mandolin on stage with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe at 6 and appearing on TV with Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs at 7. He emerged as a professional bluegrass musician in 1971, when he and his friend Keith Whitley were invited to join the legendary Ralph Stanley’s band the Clinch Mountain Boys.

Skaggs then went on to record and perform with progressive bluegrass acts like the Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe & the New South, whose self-titled 1975 Rounder Records debut album was instantly recognized as a landmark bluegrass achievement. He then led Boone Creek, which also featured Dobro ace and fellow New South alumnus Jerry Douglas.

But Skaggs turned to the more mainstream country music genre in the late ‘70s when he joined Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band, replacing Rodney Crowell. He became a recording artist in his own right in 1981 when his Epic label debut album Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine topped the country charts and yielded a pair of #1 hits. Overall, his productive stay at Epic Records would result in a total of 12 #1 hits. Additionally, he garnered eight Country Music Association Awards–including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985.

Skaggs, of course, fit right in with young “new-traditionalist” ‘80s artists like Randy Travis, and helped rejuvenate the country music genre after the worn-out “Urban Cowboy” period. But, Skaggs put his own stamp on the country format by infusing his bluegrass and traditional country music roots into the contemporary Nashville sound.

Skaggs’ 1997 album Bluegrass Rules!, released on his newly-formed Skaggs Family Records label, marked a triumphant return to bluegrass—which he’s solidified ever since with a series of GRAMMY® Award winning albums, recorded with his amazing bluegrass band, Kentucky Thunder (8-time winners of the IBMA ‘Instrumental Group of the Year’). Skaggs’ label has also served as a home for similar bluegrass and roots music-oriented artists including The Whites.

In the past decade, he has been honored with inductions into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. In 2018, a landmark year, Skaggs was also awarded membership into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and country music’s greatest honor, the Country Music Hall of Fame. Most recently, he was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts in 2020 for his contributions to the American music industry.

Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 60 years ago, and he continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Clearly his passion for it puts him in the position to bring his lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Ricky Skaggs is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations.

Kentucky Thunder Band Member Bios

“This group of guys meets my approval every night,” Ricky says. “Each and every one of the pickers in Kentucky Thunder totally amazes me in every show…and that, to me, outweighs any award we could ever win.” The all-star lineup of Kentucky Thunder includes Russ Carson (banjo), Jake Workman (lead guitar), Dennis Parker (baritone vocals, guitar), Gavin Kelso (bass), Mike Rogers (tenor vocals, rhythm guitar) and Billy Contreras (fiddle).

                RUSS CARSON

Russ Carson came by his passion for the banjo honestly: his father has made handcrafted banjos and played old-time fiddle and banjo since the early 1970’s. As a result of the never-ending live music played around him while growing up, Russ started playing bluegrass at age 10, and has been an avid student and performer of the genre ever since. During his time as a band member with Gold Heart and subsequently Audie Blaylock & Redline, he was able to work with industry legends such as Del & Ronnie McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Carl Jackson, Glen Duncan, Lou Reid, and many others. His latest project, Avenue Of The Giants, was described by fellow Pennsylvanian and mentor Tom Adams as being, “right at the edge of the music where they reach out and insist that you become part of the music…,” an accurate portrayal of Russ’ presence on stage with Kentucky Thunder as well. When not performing, Russ creates quality videos and photos using his second love, photography.

            JAKE WORKMAN

Jake Workman, hailing from Draper, Utah, began playing the guitar when he received one for his 13th birthday in 2001. Jake’s introduction to bluegrass music came 1 ½ years later when he received a banjo from his parents for Christmas. With his growing love for bluegrass, he entered many instrument contests and won many titles on guitar, banjo, and mandolin. In 2007 while attending the National Flat Pick Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas, Jake met other musicians that later would help form the Midwest-based band, Driven. He has also played in Salt Lake City based groups Cold Creek, The Aaron Ashton Band, and the Jake and Rebekah Workman Band. Jake has a degree in jazz guitar performance from the University of Utah. His playing showcases his extensive knowledge in rock and jazz genres but is mostly influenced by traditional bluegrass. When not performing, he teaches many private lessons, writes music, and works in the studio. Jake was recently featured on the cover of the May/June 2015 issue of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and is the lead guitarist for Kentucky Thunder.

              DENNIS PARKER

Dennis Parker is no stranger working with Ricky Skaggs, being a former member of Kentucky Thunder and sharing a GRAMMY win on Ricky Skaggs’ Bluegrass Rules! album with guitar, mandolin, and vocal credits on the successful release. Dennis has also played professionally with Lee Ann Womack, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie, and Mark Chesnutt, among others. He is equally at home playing blues, soul, country, gospel, pop, and contemporary Christian music styles. Dennis is a master at multiple instruments including fiddle, banjo, and mandolin, but favors the guitar. As a musician full of soul, it is revealed in his playing style, his vocals, and at times in his right leg! Dennis is a previous state contest winner on fiddle, banjo and guitar and has won multiple other contests in many states. As a baritone vocalist and guitarist for Kentucky Thunder, we welcome Dennis back working with Ricky and the band.

               GAVIN KELSO

A native of Southwest Missouri, now Texas-based Gavin Kelso began his musical journey on the bass guitar while in his early teens, and shortly thereafter became a busy member of the Four-State Area’s community of professional musicians. During this time, he also found his first true musical love – the double bass. Upon graduation from high school, he received a scholarship to attend the University of North Texas, where he studied with master performer-pedagogues Jeff Bradetich and Lynn Seaton in the largest double bass program in the world. In 2013, Gavin was a finalist in the International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition, where he was also given special recognition as a composer. He has performed with a wide array of artists in as many genres throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. We are excited to welcome Gavin to the band as the bass player for Kentucky Thunder.

               MIKE ROGERS

Best known in Nashville for his drumming skills, many are shocked when they see and hear Mike Rogers up front playing guitar as little do they know that the guitar was his first instrument. Born and raised in Myrtle Beach, S.C., Rogers, whose father Tom was a South Carolina state fiddle champion, took an interest in music at a very early age. By the end of high school, Rogers was backing a former Liberty Records artist on drums and considering the move to Nashville. After deciding to stay in Myrtle Beach, start a family and play music at the local music theater, Rogers made the move to Nashville in 2002 where he would play drums and some acoustic guitar for the likes of country artist Kevin Denney and Craig Morgan. After a break from the drums to concentrate on lead vocals and acoustic guitar with bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson, Rogers jumped back into country music again with Craig Morgan, this time on acoustic, ganjo and steel guitar. Rogers also includes singer, producer, and songwriter to his resume. In 2009 he co-wrote one of the most played songs that year, “Bonfire,” recorded by Craig Morgan. He has since penned songs for Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Lonesome River Band and Jimmy Fortune. He also had the opportunity to produce, perform and write songs for Jimmy Fortune’s album, “Lessons.” With all of these wonderful talents, Rogers sings tenor vocals and plays rhythm guitar in Kentucky Thunder.

             BILLY CONTRERAS

Billy Contreras is a fiddler from Nashville, Tennessee. He studied with Buddy Spicher and Rachel-Barton Pine and has performed or recorded with Lionel Hampton, George Jones, Doc Severinsen, Hank Thompson, Hank Jones, Crystal Gayle, Grady Tate, Charlie Louvin, Al Grey, Ray Price, Marty Stuart, Bela Fleck, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Nashville Symphony. Contreras is an artist, educator, session player, arranger, and producer. He teaches at Belmont University, with his musical influences ranging from Frazier Moss to Ottorino Respighi and from Charles Lloyd to Bob Wills. Playing the fiddle in Kentucky Thunder, Contreras is a welcome addition to the band.

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Wed, May 15th 2024
$73.00 - $148.00

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