RICKY SKAGGS AND BRUCE HORNSBY, CLUCK OL’ HEN (LIVE)

RICKY SKAGGS AND BRUCE HORNSBY
CLUCK OL’ HEN (LIVE)

Skaggs Family Records
6989050042

The only thing that could possibly top the Skaggs and Hornsby studio collaboration six years ago is this live collection of tunes, mostly taken from their tour at that time. While musicians attempt to recreate the live feel behind the studio microphone, there’s just no replacing the adrenaline driving performance before an audience.

The eclectic duo, along with Skaggs’ band Kentucky Thunder, prove this on three bluegrass treasures from Bill Monroe: “Toy Heart,” “Darling Corey,” and “Bluegrass Breakdown.” The latter’s lightning speed instrumental romp is exciting to listen to with mandolin, fiddle, and banjo taking their respective turns, but then Hornsby dives in with rapid fire fingers on the ivories, showcasing his ingenuity to fit piano into the bluegrass world. The Grammy winning performers merge their different styles on Hornsby compositions such as “The Dreaded Spoon,” “White Wheeled Limousine,” and “Gulf Of Mexico Fishing Boat Blues.” Skaggs and his band color Hornsby’s hit “The Way It Is” with a fascinating bluegrass palette in an extended 14:20 version.

That’s one of the reasons this CD is better than a sterilized studio disc. Musicians are able to improvise and branch out on extended solos, and you can feel the heightened energy the crowd instills in the performers. It’s also enjoyable to hear the witty banter of Skaggs and Hornsby as they introduce most of the songs. If you can’t make it to one of their upcoming tour dates, this album is the best way to place you in the concert venue from the comfort of your home. (Skaggs Family Records, P.O. Box 2478, Hendersonville, TN 37077, www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com.)BC

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