Skaggs touches hearts at concert

November 25, 2002|by CANDICE BOSELY

A cold November wind whipped through town Friday night, but inside The Maryland Theatre, it was hot with the sounds of Southern bluegrass.

Ricky Skaggs had come to town.

Skaggs, 48, and his six-man band played old and new songs during their show, including "Why did you wander?" "Lonesome night," and "Black-eyed Susie."

Before the 8 p.m. show, fans stood in line as they waited to enter the theater, sometimes spilling outside.

Vicki Davies tried to explain why she likes Skaggs' music.

"It touches my spirit. It's a spiritual sound for me," she said.

A friend with her agreed.

"It's hard to not be moved by it," Fran Beitler said.

Davies said one should be careful not to mix different music genres.


"We're not country music fans but we like bluegrass," she said. "(Skaggs) has roots, gospel."

Bob Couchenour, 74, agreed.

"They call what you're getting today country music. It really isn't country music," he said. "What Ricky Skaggs is doing is country."

Marti King, of Greencastle, Pa., said Skaggs' gospel-tinged music can touch one's heart.

"A lot of his songs portray a lot of love and caring about people," she said.

Joan and Larry McFadden, of Waynesboro, Pa., each pointed to the other when asked who was the bigger Skaggs fan. The couple's daughter and son-in-law got them tickets to the show as an early Christmas present.

Larry McFadden said the music takes him back to his younger days, when his father played in a string band.

"It's bluegrass music," he said. "That's what I was brought up in."

Skaggs, an eight-time Grammy winner, was named CMA's entertainer of the year in 1985, according to an announcement made before the show.

Those in the nearly full Maryland Theatre clapped after each song by opening artist Tanya Savory, and laughed politely during her between-song stories.

But when the lights when down and Skaggs sauntered onto the stage, those in the audience - some of whom wore cowboys hats, even more wearing cowboy boots - yelled and cheered, clapped and whistled.

After playing three songs in quick succession, Skaggs chatted a bit with the audience.

"I hope you came out to hear some bluegrass. If not, we're both in the wrong place," said Skaggs, who played a mandolin during the show.

He told the audience to listen for some new songs, which will appear on an album set to be released March 4.

He even touched on some world issues.

Before playing "Mother's Only Sleeping," Skaggs said his late mother was blessed with the ability to make great fried chicken.

"Her fried chicken could bring peace to the Middle East. They need her right now," he said.

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