Ricky Skaggs to bring his Kentucky Thunder to RiverRoots
Bowling Green, Ky.’s Sam Bush
returns to RiverRoots stage
(May 2017) – By age 21, Ricky Skaggs was a virtuoso in the bluegrass music scene. His mastery of the mandolin has led him to earn 14 Grammy Awards and firmly establish his place in the music genre.
Thursday, May 18
• 6-8 p.m.: Free “Warm-Up” show featuring The Way Down Wanderers.
Friday, May 19
• 5 p.m.: Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 5:30 p.m.: Bigfoot Yancey
• 6:45 p.m.: The Giving Tree Band
• 8:05 p.m.: Peter Rowan
• 9:30 p.m.: Ricky Skaggs
• 6:15 p.m.: Maria Carrelli
• 7:45 p.m.: Dawg Yawp
Saturday, May 20
• 11 a.m.: Gates and Folk Art Village open
• 1 p.m.: New Balance
• 2:15 p.m.: HoneyHoney
• 3:30 p.m.: Blair Crimmons & The Hookers
• 5 p.m.: Buffalo Wabs & The Price Hill Hustle
• 6:30 p.m.: The Accidentals
• 8 p.m.: Langhorne Slim
• 9:30 p.m.: Sam Bush
• 1:30 p.m.: The Other Years
• 3 p.m.: Jake Book
• 4:30 p.m.: John Craigie
• 6 p.m.: Darrell Scott
• Note: Also featuring a Jam Tent, Folk Art Village, Craft Beer Tent and Children’s Activities Area.
Admission Wristbands: $20 Friday; $30 Saturday; $35 Weekend Pass through May 18;
$40 at the gate. Teen pass (ages 13-16) $10 or $5 each day. Children 12-under free. Wristbands available online at www.RiverRoots.org or by calling (812) 265-2956 or 1-800-559-2956. Tickets also available at several Madison business locations.
As one of bluegrass’ most dynamic and sought-after live performers, Skaggs will perform on the Bicentennial Stage at 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 19, as the headliner for the 12th annual RiverRoots Music & Folk Arts Festival in Madison, Ind. This is one of two stages for the festival. Skaggs will be followed on Saturday, May 20, by headliner Sam Bush, who is scheduled to take the stage at 9:30 p.m.
Born in 1954 in Cordell, Ky., Skaggs has devoted a lifetime to playing roots music. His father, Hobert, gifted him with his first mandolin at age 5. After only two weeks of teaching him the G, C and D chords, Hobert returned home from working out of town to find that his young son was making chord changes and singing along with the music. Skaggs soon earned a reputation as a young prodigy among the locals in his small town.
His big break came one year later at age 6 when the legendary Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe, came to Martha, Ky., for a show. The crowd insisted on having “Little Ricky Skaggs” get on stage and play. Monroe placed his own mandolin around Skaggs’ neck.
That moment defined Skaggs’ future. Only one year later he was performing with bluegrass legends Flatt & Scruggs on their popular syndicated TV show.
By 1971, he and his close friend, the late country singer Keith Whitley, were invited to join Ralph Stanley’s band. Skaggs went on to perform live shows and make recordings with acts such as J.D. Crowe & the New South. He performed on the band’s 1975 debut album for Rounder Records. It is widely regarded as one of the most influential bluegrass albums ever made.
For a time in the late 1970s, Skaggs turned his attention to country music. He was a member of Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band and later struck out on his own. With the release of “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine”
in 1981, Skaggs reached the top of the country charts and remained there throughout most of the 1980s.
In 1982, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the youngest person to ever be inducted at that time. His popularity soared and he earned eight awards from the Country Music Association including “Entertainer of the Year” in 1985, four Grammy Awards, and dozens of other honors. At that time, well-known guitarist and producer Chet Atkins credited Skaggs with “single-handedly saving country music.
Clockwise from top left are Peter Rowan (photo by Ronald Rietman), Bigfoot Yancey, Darrell Scott (photo by Jim McGuire), Langhorne Slim and The Accidentals.
In 1997 he decided to establish his own record label, Skaggs Family Records. Since doing so, Skaggs and his band, Kentucky Thunder, have released 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics. He also opened the label to a variety of other musical artists, all the while keeping emphasis on bluegrass and other forms of roots music.
Skagg’s first release for Skaggs Family Records, “Bluegrass Rules!” set a new standard for bluegrass. It broke new sales records in the genre, winning Skaggs his sixth Grammy Award and earning him the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Album of the Year Award. Soldier of the Cross was his first all-gospel recording project.
Skaggs’ first all-live album with Kentucky Thunder, “Live at the Charleston Music Hall” (2003), led to an IBMA Award for Instrumental Group of the Year, an award Skaggs and his band has taken home eight times in the last decade.
He credits the members of Kentucky Thunder as being the best group of musicians with whom he has ever worked. “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,” he has been quoted as saying.
To mark his 50th year in music Skaggs released “Country Hits Bluegrass Style” (2011), a compilation of many of his No. 1 country hits and fan favorites, played in a bluegrass style.
Skaggs has often said that he is “just trying to make a living” playing the music he loves. He is always forging ahead with cross-cultural, genre-bending musical ideas and inspirations, reaching new generations of musicians and fans.
Bush, meanwhile, returns for his second appearance at this festival and will close out the two-day festival on Saturday night.
Known as The Father of Newgrass, Bush has been revered for both his solo and sideman work, which includes time with Harris, Lyle Lovett and Béla Fleck. This recipient of an Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award still strives relentlessly to create new material.
Dawg Yawp is an up and coming band from Cincinnati. The band consists of (from left) Rob Keenan and Tyler Randall.
“I feel fortunate that when it’s time to play, no matter how I feel physically or mentally, once the downbeat starts, my mind goes to a place that’s all music,” Bush was quoted as saying. “The joy of the music comes to me and overtakes me sometimes. I just become part of the music.”
• It’s very easy to listen to Louisville-based folk duo The Other Years and immediately feel transported into another time. Heather Summers and Anna Krippenstapel have formed a unique duo who capture a heart rendering sound that feels completely timeless in its honest lyrics and stripped down acoustics. They have recorded a song set live from historic South Union Shaker Village in Auburn, Ky., that transports the listener into a musical era that once was, and thanks to the Other Years, still is.
Bush was raised on a farm just outside of Bowling Green, Ky., and began playing mandolin when he was 11 years old. “I believe growing up on a farm probably helped me channel my energy into learning music and being so interested in it.”
He was exposed to country and bluegrass music at an early age through his father Charlie’s record collection, and later by the Flatt & Scruggs television show. He was greatly influenced by the genre when he attended the inaugural Roanoke, Va., Bluegrass Festival in 1965.
As a teen, Bush took first place three times in the junior division of the National Oldtime Fiddler’s Contest in Weiser, Idaho.
In spring 1970, he attended the Fiddlers Convention at Union Grove, N.C., and was inspired by the rock-flavored progressive bluegrass of the New Deal String Band. Later that same year, Bush relocated to Louisville and joined the Bluegrass Alliance. By the fall of 1971, the band had dissolved and reformed as the New Grass Revival.
The band broke up for good in 1989, and Bush joined Emmylou Harris’ Nash Ramblers, touring and recording with Harris for the next five years. In 1995, Bush worked as a sideman with Lovett and Fleck’s Flecktones.
In 2007, Bush released his first live concert DVD titled, “On The Road.” That same year marked the first time he had been chosen to host the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.
Bush was honored in 2009 with the Lifetime Achievement for Instrumentalist award at the eighth annual American Honors & Awards ceremony, presented by the Americana Music Association. The rest of the lineup for Friday’s Bicentennial Stage includes the following:
• Grammy-award winner Peter Rowan is a six-time Grammy nominee and 2015 IBMA Award winner for Recorded Event of the Year. A singer-songwriter from Wayland, Mass., his career spans more than five decades.
Internationally, Rowan performs as a solo singer-songwriter, while stateside he performs with three bands: the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, a quintet featuring Keith Little (banjo), Chris Henry (mandolin), Blaine Sprouse (fiddle) and Paul Knight (bass); Big Twang Theory and its Texas Cousin Twang n Groove and the rock band The Free Mexican Air Force.
• The Giving Tree Band is an Illinois-based band has shared the stage with many other top acts, including The Avett Brothers, Trampled By Turtles, Railroad Earth and Leftover Salmon.
The Giving Tree Band was formed in 2004 by brothers E. (guitars and lead vocals) and Todd (banjos and lead vocals) Fink. They are joined by longtime friend Norm Norman (mandolin, guitar, piano, organ and high harmonies) and Charlie Karls (bass) and “Z” (drums).
Their sound has been described by The Austin Chronicle as bringing to mind, “Seventies American music with The Band and the Dead as obvious touchstones, plus the kind of country-almost-bluegrass of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils and the New Riders of the Purple Sage.”
• Bigfoot Yancey is an Indianapolis-based band with a sound that draws upon inspiration from various genres, but is always rooted in Americana and the blue collar sound.
Bigfoot Yancey does things the old way, preferring to keep their music as raw and stripped down as possible. Their live performances have a down-home feel, fused with energy.
The band has performed throughout Indiana at many different venues and festivals, such as the Indiana Wine Fair and IndyPride Fest.
• Maria Carrelli a country and folk singer-songwriter born and raised in Cincinnati. She crafts her folk-based, grass roots music, baring her soul through every song. Carrelli’s music is heavily influenced by old bluegrass standards and country music through the ages.
• Dawg Yawp is a folk-based duo that combines sitar, guitar, synth and drum samples alongside beautiful harmonies. Friends Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan Berklee together, only to return to their native Cincinnati to focus on their music.
Their debut EP, “Two Hearted,” quickly earned them acclaim and radio play. It channeled major influences such as Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, The Who and The Rolling Stones, combined with modern influences such as Beck, Air, Radiohead, Black Moth Super Rainbow and Tame Impala.
Saturday’s lineup includes the following:
• Langhorne Slim is an American singer-songwriter who plays guitar, banjo and harmonica. Slim first gained public notice by touring for several years with the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players.
Slim’s song, “Electric Love Letter,” appeared in the movie “Waitress.” Another song, “Worries” from his self-titled album, was featured in a Traveler’s Insurance commercial. His song “The Way We Move,” was featured in a Microsoft Windows 8 commercial. It appeared on the album by the same name and was recorded at Old Soul Studio, a 100-year-old Greek Revival house repurposed as a recording studio in Catskill, N.Y.
• The Accidentals is a young band comprised of multi-instrumentalists Katie Larson and Savannah Buist. They have been described as “a duo giving an edge to folk with unique instrumentation.” Larson and Buist first met in 2011 at their public high school when Larson was a cello player and Buist a violinist. Both volunteered for a class assignment that forged their friendship and The Accidentals were born.
Both hail from musical families and their influences range from classical, jazz, bluegrass, country and-rock, to the obscure. Their musical influences include indie music greats like Andrew Bird, St. Vincent, Sufjan Stephens, Arcade Fire, Ben Folds Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Sarah Jaffe
• Buffalo Wabs & the Price Hill Hustle is a Cincinnati-based, four-piece Americana and folk band that consistently brings high energy onto every stage on which they perform. Buffalo Wabs is Matt Wabnitz, who spearheads the group, playing guitar and vocal.
Casey Campbell, Bill Baldock, and Scott Risner comprise The Price Hill Hustle. They met through the Cincinnati music community at open mics and seeing each other at other shows around town.
• Blair Crimmins & The Hookers features Crimmins, who began his current music career in Atlanta. He was determined to mesh together Ragtime and 1920s style Dixieland Jazz for new audiences. He has a sound that is at once modern while yet deeply rooted in the past.
Crimmins writes songs and arrangements for a classic New Orleans style horn section consisting of trumpet, clarinet and trombone.
• HoneyHoney is an Americana group from Los Angeles was formed in 2006 by musician Benjamin Jaffe and musician-model-actress Suzanne Santo. The two met at a costume party and signed a record deal a year later. They originally performed under the name Zanzibar Lewis. Their debut album, “First Rodeo,” was released in 2008.
The band released its second studio album, “Billy Jack,” in 2011 under their own HoneyHoney Records-Lost Highway label. Its third album, “3” debuted in June 2015.
• The New Balance was formed five years ago by brothers Zion Napier (mandolin, lead and supporting vocals) and Calib Smith (banjo). Napier and Smith were born and raised in the Scipio, Ind., area. Napier has played in orchestras and bluegrass bands since he was eight years old. “I have a lot of influences, but the main ones are Adam Steffey, Chris Thile, Jesse Brock, and Josh Williams.”
Napier and Smith have since been joined by Garret Smith and Matthew Phelps. Their vision was a band that was fun, exciting, and would provide energetic bluegrass music. The newest member, Matthew Phelps (lead guitar, vocals), came from a family of bluegrass musicians and started playing music at age 10. The fourth member, Garret Smith, has been playing bass for eight years in the orchestra and in different bluegrass groups.
• Darrell Scott visited Madison in March 2017 for the RiverRoots Music Series, Season 3. He performed with Maria Carrelli at Fitzgibbon Recital Hall at Hanover College. Born in London, Ky., he is a four-time Grammy nominated Nashville, Tenn., songwriter who has written hits for Brad Paisley, the Dixie Chicks, Del McCoury, Sam Bush and Keb Mo.
He wrote nine of the 14 songs on his own new album, “Couchville Sessions.” He wrote songs for Garth Brooks, the Dixie Chicks, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and many others.
• John Cragie is a singer-songwriter from Portland, Ore. He is musically comparable to John Prine. He has been called “one of the best storytellers of our time.”
Hailed as a “Modern-Day Troubadour” in the style of Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Craigie has been traveling continuously for most of the past decade throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. He has toured solo and with Todd Snider, the Shook Twins, Nicki Bluhm, Paul Thorn, Jack Johnson, James McMurtry, Shawn Colvin, Sean Hayes and ALO.
• Jake Book has the reputation of being an old-time musician, documentarian and songwriter. He grew up on a farm in Iowa, among the rolling hills of the southern part of the state. He learned to play banjo from his mother who played in the old frailing style. Book has been playing music since age 9.
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