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Ricky Skaggs and Friends Bring Christmas Back to the Ryman

by Rich and Laura Lynch

We cannot think of a better way to celebrate Christmas than a concert with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder at the Ryman Auditorium on December 10, 2023. This heartwarming event featured new and old seasonal songs presented by first class musicians and vocalists fronted by Ricky. On this occasion, The Whites along with their adult children were present which made this show a family affair.

It was a great Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Christmas at the Ryman.

According to the onstage banter this Skaggs family tradition started two decades ago when Ricky's mother - the central figure and matriarch of their family - passed away. When the Skaggs gathered for the holidays that season they found themselves lost and it was decided that they would sing their way through the pain. Soon, they were jumping on busses to take their new found Christmas setlist on the road and they are still going strong today as was clear by their moving hometown show in Nashville.

At the Ryman, the curtain rose as a sizable group of musicians performed the cheery "Christmas Time's A Coming" flowing into a delightful "Deck The Halls". Ricky mentioned that he worked with James Taylor on the next track - "New Star Shining" that was a beautiful piece telling the story of Jesus' birth to be followed by a newer song about mercy. Cheryl White said that she loved this next one which was "Mary, Did You Know?" This tune has become a modern Christmas classic that encourages contemplation of the relationship between Mary and her Son. "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" and "The Little Drummer Boy" concluded the festive first half.

Ricky Skaggs once again delivered the goods with a little help from his friends.

After the break, Ricky with The Whites presented an a cappella version of "The First Noel". Molly the daughter of Ricky and Sharon took a seat at the piano to talk about how much she loved the season of advent as an introduction to the serious "What Songs Were Sung?" Next, her relatives joined her around a mic for their moving rendition of "Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel". Throughout the show, Luke Skaggs on vox and guitar proved that - like the light in the Bethlehem sky all those years ago - he too has an abundance of star quality within the wider musically gifted family.

The classic "Do You Hear What I Hear?" was followed by a spirited instrumental from Kentucky Thunder. During the encore which included "Silent Night", Ricky shared that it had been a tough year referring to Buck White but countering it with that we are still going to praise the Lord and that is what they did with a jubilant "Joy To The World" to end the family holiday show on a high note.

Molly Skaggs was a revelation at the Ryman.

Ricky Skaggs was born in Cordell, Kentucky. Ricky was given a mandolin when he was five years old, and that gift shaped his entire future. At age six, he played and sang with the legendary Bill Monroe and at seven he was performing on TV with the likes of Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt. Ricky would continue to build on that momentum. Many years later, Skaggs is a 15-time Grammy Award winning artist who is well respected in the bluegrass, Christian, and country worlds, while the Skaggs' Christmas shows have become a much-anticipated seasonal celebration.

Thanks to the historic Ryman Auditorium for hosting this Christmas concert and they have other holiday shows scheduled for December. Ricky also has more Christmas shows this month and gigs on the calendar for 2024 so check him out too.

Luke Skaggs - to paraphrase the cliche - the ornament doesn't fall far from the Christmas tree!

Related Links: For more information on RICKY SKAGGS and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Ricky Skaggs | Ricky Skaggs Is a Towering Musical Presence in Music City | Ricky Skaggs: Bluegrass & More at the Ryman | Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder Celebrate the Past and Present of Bluegrass at the Ryman | Ryman Auditorium


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