Ricky Skaggs: Live Last Night

ricky skaggs

Live Last Night

By Juli Thanki

It's a rare performer who'll quote both the Old Testament and "Slingblade." But when the performer is Ricky Skaggs, who shared a stage with Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, at five years old and turned pro at an age when most are worried about finding a date to the prom, just about anything is possible. Backed by his crack six-man band Kentucky Thunder, Skaggs wowed the Strathmore crowd Thursday night with nearly two hours of acoustic music, punctuating originals and bluegrass standards with breakneck instrumentals.

(Skaggs whips it like a mule, after the jump.)

"Well, you just had the 20-minute bluegrass workout," Skaggs joked after a series of particularly speedy songs.

Bill Monroe has passed on, but Skaggs invoked his spirit throughout the night, covering a block of Monroe songs from the late '40s and relating one choice piece of advice the master gave him: "You gotta whip that mandolin like a mule." Seems like Skaggs took it to heart, not only with the mandolin, but guitar and banjo as well.

The individual members of Kentucky Thunder got to shine, most notably when fiddler Andy Leftwich paid tribute to Django Reinhardt's swinging gypsy jazz with a cover of "Minor Swing." Guitarist Paul Brewster also received thunderous applause for his soaring take on "Kentucky Waltz," another Monroe song. Brewster's tenor vocals, paired with Skaggs' pure-as-a-mountain-stream voice, were a highlight of the evening, thanks in part to the Strathmore's acoustics.

Encoring with the Stanley Brothers' "Rank Stranger" and traditional song "Salty Dog," Skaggs cemented his role as a vital part of that unbroken musical circle.

By David Malitz |  October 30, 2009; 2:27 PM ET Live Last Night
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