Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with guest appearance by Patty Loveless
- Dates: September 29, 2018
- Venue: Red Hat Amphitheater
- Location: Downtown Raleigh
- Address: 500 S. McDowell St., Raleigh, NC 27601
- Times: 7:30-9pm
- Admission: Ticketed
Another special Wide Open Bluegrass Main Stage set features Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder with a guest appearance by Patty Loveless.
Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder
A life full of music. That's the story of Ricky Skaggs. By age 21, he was already considered a "recognized master" of one of America's most demanding art forms, but his career took him in other directions, catapulting him to popularity and success in the mainstream of 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. Skaggs struck his first chords on a mandolin more than 50 years ago, and this 15-time Grammy Award winner with 13 IBMA Awards to his credit -- along with countless other honors and awards -- continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Since he began playing music more than 50 years ago, Skaggs has released more than 30 albums and has performed thousands of live shows. With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label (Bluegrass Rules! in 1998, Ancient Tonesin 1999, History of the Future in 2001, Soldier of the Cross, Live at the Charleston Music Hall, and Big Mon: The Songs of Bill Monroe in 2003, Brand New Strings in 2005, Instrumentals in 2007, Salt of the Earth with The Whites in 2008, Honoring the Fathers of Bluegrass: Tribute to 1946 and 1947 in 2009 and Ricky Skaggs Solo: Songs My Dad Loved along with Mosaic in 2010), the diverse and masterful tones made by the gifted Skaggs come from a life dedicated to playing music that is both fed by the soul and felt by the heart. This fall, Skaggs will be inducted into the Country Music Association's Hall of Fame in recognition of his musical achievements. The all-star lineup of Kentucky Thunder includes Paul Brewster (tenor vocals, rhythm guitar), Russ Carson (banjo), Jake Workman (lead guitar), Mike Barnett (fiddle), Dennis Parker (baritone vocals, guitar) and Jeff Picker (bass, bass vocals).
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If any contemporary country star seemed born to be a Grand Ole Opry member, it was Patty Loveless. Growing up as one of seven children born to a Kentucky coal miner, Loveless has distinct memories of singing along to the Opry on Friday and Saturday nights — at age 3 — while her mom mopped floors. As she became a teenager, her brother was working for Porter Wagoner, who recognized Patty’s tremendous voice, as did Dolly Parton. “My first visit to the Opry was when I was 14 years old; it was at the Ryman,” she recalls. “I went as the guest of Dolly and Porter. It was the very first time I really got to visit backstage, and I felt like I was just in hillbilly heaven.”
A couple of years after that, back home in Kentucky, the girl then known as Patty Ramey was drafted to fill in at a traveling Opry concert on a bill that included the Wilburn Brothers, who, like Porter and Dolly before them, were struck by this teenaged prodigy with the voice beyond her years. She eventually became the Wilburns’ full-time female singer out on the road, following in the footsteps of distant cousin Loretta Lynn. During the mid-’80s, Loveless began a hailed solo career that produced a long streak of Top 10 hits and quickly led her back to the Opry, this time as a celebrated young inductee.
Today, Loveless is known as one of country’s neo-traditionalists, though she’s certainly got the chops to succeed in any style. The older the style, the more she sounds at home. “My father loved the mountain bluegrass sound of the Stanley Brothers, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, and Bill Monroe,” she explains. “He took me to see Lester, Earl & the Foggy Mountain Boys perform on top of a concession stand during an intermission at a local drive-in theater. I was only 6 years old, and I can still remember that moment to this day.”
Loveless had a streak of hits in a more contemporary style, including the No. 1s “Timber, I’m Falling in Love” and “Chains,” and she won the Country Music Association’s Album of the Year trophy for 1995’s When Fallen Angels Fly — adding to her female-vocalist honors from both the Academy of Country Music and the CMAs. But her greatest critical triumphs were yet to come, as she returned to her Appalachian roots with 2001’s Mountain Soul (which spawned a similarly acoustic-based sequel, Mountain Soul II). “I felt like I was connecting to my father’s heart,” she says. No wonder she makes thousands of hearts melt, across generations, every time she returns to the Opry's never-ending family reunion.