Artist: Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby
Album: Cluck Ol’ Hen – Live
Label: Skaggs Family Records
Reviewed by: Joseph Hett
With this new live release, Bluegrass and Country musician Ricky Skaggs teams up with singer-songwriter and pianist Bruce Hornsby for an unlikely pairing. It may seem weird to read on paper, but when you hear the music, it all blends together.
This CD was originally recorded six years ago during their first tour together. They are accompanied by Skaggs’ backing band, Kentucky Thunder.
At the beginning, they said they were in Omaha, the last night of the tour, and they wanted to make it special. They immediately cranked up “How Mountain Girls Can Love.” Hornsby’s piano was on fire and Skaggs’ mandolin was blazing.
The two blended together for a new genre of music, which Hornsby dubbed “Piano and Bluegrass.”
They played many Bluegrass standards and Hornsby penned tunes. They featured several of Bill Monroe’s songs, the pioneer of Bluegrass, including the instrumental “Bluegrass Breakdown.”
Throughout the songs, Skaggs and Hornsby would trade riffs on their respective instruments and took turns singing. Kentucky Thunder guitarist Ben Helson got to sing lead on “Darling Corey.”
The highlight of the night had to be the extended 10-minute plus pickin’ sessions of the Hornsby songs “The Way It Is” and “White Wheeled Limousine.”
They closed the CD with the traditional Appalachian song “Cluck Ol’ Hen.”
Hornsby brought a modern component to the Bluegrass music and that makes this pairing special. It was very satisfying to hear the musicianship on this CD. It was very good and was even better since it was recorded live.