Ricky Skaggs & Family
A Skaggs Family Christmas – Volume Two
Skaggs Family Records
5 stars (out of 5)
By Larry Stephens
Ricky Skaggs needs no introduction to the bluegrass or country music worlds. People familiar with bluegrass will recognize The Whites as a part of the family (Ricky and Sharon White have been married thirty years).
This is a bonus package, both a CD and DVD are included. The CD is a ten song set of Christmas favorites like “Joy To The World” and “Christmas Time’s A-Coming.” A special treat, though, is hearing some family members who are not so familar to us.
Molly Skaggs has been appearing in some shows with her dad since she was a child, but she’s hardly a household name to fans. She is featured in a sparse arrangement of “What Songs Were Sung” (just her on piano and vocals and Tom Roady on percussion). This is a beautiful number that should be included in any grand collection of Christmas songs. Luke Skaggs, who, like Molly, is involved with Morning Star Ministries, offers an instrumental he wrote, “Flight to Egypt,” and sings and plays guitar (along with Molly and Rachel Leftwich [daughter of Cheryl White, married to Andy Leftwich]) on “Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel.” “Flight Into Egypt” is comprised of multiple movements, going from a quiet introduction to much more dramatic movements as it follows this biblical story of Joseph and Mary taking baby Jesus into Egypt. It’s obvious that Luke is an accomplished guitarist and Andy Leftwich is superb on the fiddle.
Molly and Rachel take turns singing lead and harmony as they perform “Emmanuel.” Their lead and harmony singing is well done and beautiful and the minimalist accompaniment (Luke playing guitar) underscores the vocals and lyrics.
From lush arrangements like “Silent Night,” featuring Ricky, Sharon and Cheryl White, and the Nashville Strings to acappela numbers like “The First Noel,” this CD offers a variety of great Christmas music.
But you can hear all of these (though not necessarily the same musicians) and sixteen more on the DVD plus see the show.
The DVD kicks off with the family doing “Christmas Time’s A-Coming.” Kentucky Thunder is backing Ricky, The Whites are on stage as well as Luke and Molly Skaggs and Rachel Leftwich. People come and go but it’s constant entertainment with Ricky keeping up the patter between songs. “Children Go Where I Send Thee” with Buck White on mandolin and singing bass (the band is off stage) is a catchy, upbeat number and then The Whites do a Western swing Christmas number, “Hangin’ Around the Mistletoe” – and Chery is playing upright bass (you usually see her playing electric bass). Rejoined by Cody Kilby and Andy Leftwich, The Whites swing through “Winter Wonderland.” This is a fun show.
The second set includes the Nashville Strings. It kicks off with “Little Drummer Boy,” sung by Molly as she plays the dulcimer (with Ricky on the mandobass). Molly, Luke and Rachel do a beautiful job with “What Child Is This” followed by Cheryl, Rachel and Molly singing “Mary Did You Know?”
There are no flat spots here. This is top-notch entertainment from beginning to end, and you don’t have to be a bluegrass fan to enjoy it. Treat yourself and, as Rachel sings, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”