2011-07-24Nick's Picks: 05 "Crying My Heart Out Over Your", 07 "Highway 40 Blues", 12 "I Wouldn't Change You If I Could", 14 "Somebody's Praying" FCC ALERT: "This cd is as pure as a mountain stream" ARTIST BIO: Ricky Skaggs was born in Cordell, Kentucky. He started playing music at age 5 after he was given a mandolin by his father, Hobert. At age 6, he played mandolin on stage with Bill Monroe. At age 7, he appeared on television's Martha White country music variety show, playing with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. He also wanted to audition for the Grand Ole Opry at that time, but was told he was too young. In his mid-teens, Skaggs met a fellow teen prodigy, guitarist Keith Whitley, and the two started playing together with Whitley's banjoist brother Dwight on radio shows. By 1970, they had earned a spot opening for Ralph Stanley and Skaggs and Keith Whitley were thereafter invited to join Stanley's band, the Clinch Mountain Boys Skaggs later joined J. D. Crowe's New South. For a few years, Skaggs was a member of Emmylou Harris's Hot Band. He wrote the arrangements for Harris's 1980 bluegrass-roots album, Roses in the Snow. In addition to arranging for Harris, Skaggs sang harmony and played mandolin and fiddle in the Hot Band. Into the 1990s and 2000s, Skaggs has embraced his bluegrass roots, as well as experimenting with new sounds. With his band, Kentucky Thunder, he is a perennial winner of Grammy Awards and International Bluegrass Music Association for best bluegrass album. "I always want to try to promote the old music, as well as trying to grow, and be a pioneer too," Skaggs once said. (excerpted from Wikipedia). Review of Ricky Skaggs Country Hits Bluegrass Style I guess that by now it's no secret that I like Bluegrass - the bluer the better. And, there is no one in my generation that can make the crossover from Country to Bluegrass as seamless as Ricky Skaggs ("Lovin' Only Me", "I Don't Care" come immediately to mind). Of course it helps to have The Kentucky Thunder as your bandmates. According to the press releases for this cd, this is supposed to be a "bluegrass" rendition of Ricky's "country" hits. On most cuts, I see no difference; thus, therein lies the conundrum for me. Were his "country" hits actually "bluegrass?" In any event, this is a collection of his greatest hits - call them whatever genre you want. Although most bluegrass is uptempo, there comes the occasional slow tune, and when the tempo is slowed, then the artists can be separated from the artistes. These guys are artists - every one of them. A good example of well-coordinated music is "You've Got A Lover", as well as "Crying My Heart Out Over You". On the other side of the tempo, sometimes you just have to see them in person to believe the speed at which their fingers fly. And Ricky Skaggs is one of the best (particularly mandolin). His guitar playing is good, but his fingers are so fast on the mandolin, it makes your eyes water ("Highway 40 Blues"). (As a side note - I am proud to say that I spent my formative years around Highway 40.) And that's my two nickels' worth.....................Nick
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