Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs – Cluck Ol’ Hen (2013)

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October 4, 2013 by Nils

2013 Skaggs Family Records

Oh what to say about this album?  It’s great, that’s what it is.  Skaggs and Hornsby’s 2007 debut duo album is one of my all-time favorites, and this album continues in the 2007 album’s footsteps.  It’s fun, rollicking, and full of great musicianship.

As the album title suggests, all the tracks here are live, and that, in my opinion, is one of the reasons that makes the album so fun.  We get to hear the crowd and quite a bit of stage banter (including some bad jokes), and it becomes instantly apparent that these guys are in it for the fun of playing.  And play they do.  They open the album up with a machine-gun fast rendition of “How Mountain Girls Can Love,” and continue through “Toy Heart” and a speedy “Bluegrass Breakdown.”  Then we have a piano-driven, jazzy-bluesy rendition of the old-time standard, “Darling Corey” and a great-grassified long-jam version of Hornsby’s hit, “The Way It Is” (which seems to be garnering some recent folk renditions).  The two originals from 2007’s Ricky Skaggs and Bruce Hornsby, “The Dreaded Spoon” and “Gulf of Mexico Fishing Boat Blues” make an appearance next, this time with even more gusto and improvisation than in the studio album, followed by the old bluegrass standards “Sally Jo” and “Little Maggie.”  A great extended jam of Hornsby’s ballad about pre-marital infidelity, “White Wheeled Limousine,” follows, and the album rounds out with a “nasty” rendition of “Cluck Ol’ Hen” and Ricky Skaggs’ version of Bill Monroe’s “Uncle Pen” (don’t worry, folks, nasty is a good adjective in this sense).  All the while, the musicians shine on every track, with blazing solos on the piano, mandolin, and fiddle.  You’ll understand why the crowd is cheering all the time.

So my bottom line: this is a fantastic live album, and you really shouldn’t miss it.  If you never got a chance to see Ricky and Bruce live, this will take you there in no time, and I guarantee you will have fun.


You can listen to samples from the album on Skaggs Family Records and  The whole album is also stream-able on Spotify.  I’m not getting any money for this, just a fan who wants to tell other people about good music.

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October 2013
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