Saturday, November 10, 2007
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder
At 17, Ricky Skaggs - already an accomplished singer and mandolin player - was invited to join the band of the legendary Ralph Stanley. That was in the early 1970s, and since the moment he first took the stage, Skaggs has built a reputation rarely equaled in the world of bluegrass music. In addition to his own projects, the 12-time Grammy winner has collaborated with a host of musicians, from Emmylou Harris to pianist/composer Bruce Hornsby, with whom he teamed up for the 2007 album Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby. His latest CD is Ricky Skaggs & The Whites: Salt of the Earth (Skaggs Family Music). Kentucky Thunder is Mark Fain, bass; Keith Sewell, guitar; Cody Kilby, guitar; Andy Leftwich, fiddle.
"Mama said I could carry a tune before I could talk," Sharon White recalls. Given the family gene pool, you've got to figure it's true. Buck White started his musical career not long after the end of World War II, working Texas dance halls and radio shows. In the 1970s, he moved his family to Nashville where he and daughters Sharon and Cheryl White began their recording career. By the 1980s, they were performing as The Whites and had a string of hits produced by Ricky Skaggs, whom Sharon married in 1982. Their induction as members of the Grand Ole Opry came in 1984. After years of blending their voices — from living room to stage — Ricky Skaggs and The Whites finally joined forces for their first collaborative album, 2007's Salt of the Earth (Skaggs Family Music).
Jearlyn Steele first sang with her siblings (as The Steele Children) in churches, concert halls and on radio and TV. After she left Indiana and moved to Minnesota, one by one the rest of the Steele kids followed. They started singing together again as The Steeles. Now music is the family business. Jearlyn is the entertainment reporter for Twin Cities Public Television's public-affairs program, Almanac, and she hosts Steele Talkin', a Sunday-night radio show that originates on WCCO in Minneapolis and is heard in some 30 states nationwide. Steele Praising Hymn is her most recent CD.
After playing electric bass in a high school rock 'n' roll band, John Niemann took up guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and mandocello. He was a member of Peter Ostroushko's quartet The Mando Boys, and he spent seven years with the bluegrass group Stoney Lonesome.
Peter Johnson (percussion) has played klezmer music with Doc Severinsen and jazz with Dave Brubeck. He was a drummer for The Manhattan Transfer and for Gene Pitney. He has toured the world, but he always comes back to home base: St. Paul.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).