Concerts in the Park kicks off with Skaggs, Kentucky Thunder

Empire-Tribune Staff

Stephenville Parks and Rec is kicking off its free Concerts in the Park series with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder on Friday, April 22, at the Birdsong Amphitheater in City Park.

Openers begin at 7 p.m., with the headliners following at 7:30 p.m.

Stephenville Parks and Rec is kicking off its free Concerts in the Park series with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder on Friday, April 22, at the Birdsong Amphitheater in City Park.

The 15-time Grammy Award-winner's career is among the most significant in recent country music history. His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.

Born Kentucky, Skaggs showed signs of future stardom at a young age, playing mandolin on stage with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe at age 6 and appearing on television with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs at 7 years old. He emerged as a professional bluegrass musician in 1971, when he and his friend Keith Whitley were invited to join the legendary Ralph Stanley’s band the Clinch Mountain Boys, according to information from his website.

Skaggs then went on to record and perform with progressive bluegrass acts like the Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe & the New South, whose self-titled 1975 Rounder Records debut album was instantly recognized as a landmark bluegrass achievement. He then led Boone Creek, which also featured dobro ace and fellow New South alumnus Jerry Douglas.

Skaggs turned to the more mainstream country music genre in the late 1970s when he joined Emmylou Harris’ Hot Band. He became a recording artist in his own right in 1981 when his Epic label debut album "Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine" topped the country charts and yielded a pair of No. 1 hits.

Overall, his productive stay at Epic Records would result in a total of 12 No. 1 hits. Additionally, he garnered eight Country Music Association Awards, including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985.

In the past decade, Skaggs has been honored with inductions into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. In 2018, Skaggs was also awarded membership into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and country music’s greatest honor, the Country Music Hall of Fame. Most recently, he was awarded the prestigious National Medal of Arts in 2020 for his contributions to the American music industry.

Upcoming Concerts in the Park (opening act listed and then headliner) include:

May 19: Davin James and Asleep at the Wheel

June 2: Scott Kirby and the Old Crow Medicine Show (during Moo-La Fest)

June 3: Scott Kirby and Gary P. Nunn (during Moo-La Fest)

June 4: Scott Kirby and Rodney Crowell (during Moo-La Fest)

June 16: Tejas Brothers

July 4: Courtney Patton, Larry Joe Taylor, Leeroy Parnell

July 14: The Belamy Brothers

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs, blankets and drinks (the event is BYOB).