The audience was revved up last night for Ricky Skaggs and the Kentucky Thunder at the Woodlands Auditorium in Hot Springs Village.
It was the biggest Tuesday night audience I've seen in years. Some of the crowd was so excited they couldn't help but yell out partial conversation with Skaggs, "we love you, Rickey, way to go, Ricky."
They were enthralled from the moment Skaggs took the stage till the last encore. Be prepared, there is no intermission. It's straight through bluegrass with a little gospel thrown in.
You know Ricky Skaggs was fabulous, his reputation is well-earned and he is a folksy entertainer audiences lap up like a kitty's bowl of cream.
So, let's take some time to talk Kentucky Thunder, six good looking men that are incredible musicians. Skaggs gave them warm praise and an opportunity to feature their mad skills.
As they took the stage last night, Andy Leftwich was to the left. He is the ultimate musician, but then again, they all are. He plays two different fiddles, one with a really warm tone, and shows off his mandolin skills in at least one number. I never grew tired of watching him coax his fiddles.
Cody Kilby was up next with his guitar. There is a reason why he is a national flatpicking champion. He was breathtaking when featured on solo playing. I can't believe how fast his finger slide back and forth on one hand while the other is frantically picking away.
Scott Mulvahill and his upright bass was hidden a little behind Leftwich and Kilby. Hidden, but never forgotten because he is the percussion leader for the group, laying down the beat. His singing was featured on one song and he has a great voice, mellow and warm. You'll enjoy watching him play, he is obviously enjoying himself.
Skaggs is front and center providing a running patter, keeping the show going during tuning lulls. The audience was awed by his skills with the mandolin and guitar, his sweet tenor and his accessibility.
To the right of Skaggs was Eddie Faris. His smiles are few and far between but when he is really pleased with his guitar skills, his face light up. Another masterful musician with a steady strum and dexterous fingers. He lends harmony to Skaggs lead.
Paul Brewster has been with Skaggs the longest. He sings the high harmonies with Skaggs. He is another extraordinary guitarist. His vocal talents are featured in one solo but his voice is heard all night long, one with bluegrass in his blood.
Last but not least is banjo player Russ Carson. He has been with Kentucky Thunder for a little over a year and has been playing the banjo for many years belying his baby face. Again another vastly talented musician demonstrating his manual dexterity.
I knew I like bluegrass from long exposure but last night I fell in love. Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be in the Village for three more nights through Friday, October 23.
There are three concerts left in the Hot Springs Village Concerts Association 2015-16 schedule. The Hit Men, November 4-7, Phil Dirt Presents Surf's Up! February 16-19 and Live From Nashville, March 15-18. Go to hsvconcertassoc.org for more information.