Bluegrass icon Ricky Skaggs and master pianist Bruce Hornsby teamed up Saturday night (Oct. 5) at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium for a concert filled with lightning-fast country and bluegrass picking and a whole lot of grinning. It was all in celebration of their latest collaboration, Cluck ’Ol Hen, a live album which is out now.
Yes, we mean that Bruce Hornsby, who had major pop success in the ’80s and later toured with the Grateful Dead.
If you’re wondering how these two seemingly unlikely musical forces became friends, you’re not alone.
As it turns out, the two have known each other and enjoyed a deep friendship for years and first headed into the studio together back in 2007 for the aptly-titled Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby. It featured Hornsby songs like the piano-driven “Mandolin Rain” reinvented into bluegrass tunes and also a revamp of Rick James’ “Super Freak.” Pretty wild, huh?
The two musicians enjoyed their work together so much, they decided to release the new album and go back on the road to recapture the magic.
Traditional songs like “Bluegrass Breakdown” and “Darling Corey” got the signature Hornsby treatment at the Ryman while his radio hit “The Way It Is” got a Skaggs mandolin makeover. They told stories about the late great Bill Monroe and being in the studio together. We also learned Hornsby is not a fan of text messaging and that Skaggs’ wife — Sharon White of the The Whites — has been known to run onstage and dance during an up-tempo number.
The night was like sitting around the a fire with family and friends you love, sharing laughs and moments — all while listening to the some of the finest musicianship in any genre.
The moment of the evening had to be the stellar encore, where the duo took the stage again for Hornsby to lead a moving medley of “Just One More” and George Jones’ “The Grand Tour” before “White Wheeled Limousine.”