Thursday, July 29, 2021
– Ricky Skaggs added new two Kentucky Thunder band members with Mike Rogers performing tenor vocals and playing rhythm guitar and Billy Contreras on fiddle.
This comes as Paul Brewster retires from the band, and Mike Barnett recovers from a brain aneurysm sustained in 2020.
Rogers is a vocalist and a multi-instrumentalist, which includes playing drums, acoustic guitar, banjo and steel guitar. He has previously played with Kevin Denney, Craig Morgan and Doyle Lawson. Rogers is also a songwriter and producer, having penned songs for Morgan, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Lonesome River Band and Jimmy Fortune, and producing Fortune's album, "Lessons."
Contreras is a fiddler as well as an educator, session player, arranger and producer. He studied with Buddy Spicher and Rachel-Barton Pine and has performed or recorded with Lionel Hampton, George Jones, Doc Severinsen, Hank Thompson, Hank Jones, Crystal Gayle, Grady Tate, Charlie Louvin, Al Grey, Ray Price, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Nashville Symphony, along with teaching at Belmont University in Nashville.
Brewster was with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder for 26 years, winning many GRAMMY and IBMA awards during his tenure with Skaggs and the band.
"As Paul's been with me for more than 25 years, he made a huge impact in the sound and makeup of Kentucky Thunder," said Skaggs. "He's one of the best tenor singers in bluegrass music, a first-class musician and a good friend. Paul is a wonderful Christian brother as well, which has been more important to him than his great singing gift. His presence on stage and off will be missed."
Fiddle player Barnett's career includes a GRAMMY nomination for his album, "Portraits in Fiddles." He is working towards recovery from a brain injury, which occurred in the summer of 2020.
"Our hearts were heavy upon hearing the news of Mike's brain aneurysm back last summer," said Skaggs. "He has overcome so much and is working hard towards recovery. We can't wait to see him get back to fiddling, of which he is a master at such a young age. My wife, Sharon, and I, along with the band and crew, look forward to seeing him perform again soon and all of our prayers are with him at this time for God to heal him completely."