Ricky Skaggs was the first artist to perform that October for the 2003-04 inaugural season, followed by Mountain Heart, Robert Earl Keen and the Nashville Bluegrass Band.
Since then, the series has played host to almost every major name in contemporary bluegrass music, including the late Doc Watson, Del McCoury, Ralph Stanley, Doyle Lawson, Marty Stuart, Claire Lynch, Rhonda Vincent, The Lewis Family, Earl Scruggs, Mountain Heart, IIIrd Tyme Out, etc.
“Southern Soul & Song is directly related to the museum’s interpretation of Southern culture in all its forms,” said Kevin Grogan, the museum’s executive director. “The Morris strives to preserve the region’s cultural legacy while enhancing public understanding and appreciation of the South.”
Except for one new artist, all of the 2012-2013 featured performers will be familiar faces to series followers. Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. June 19 through the Imperial Theatre Web site or at the box office, (706) 722-8341.
RICKY SKAGGS & KENTUCKY THUNDER, SEPT. 14: On May 15, Skaggs celebrated his 30th anniversary of being a member of the Grand Ole Opry cast. It’s a family affair since his wife, sister-in-law and father-in-law also perform as the Opry trio known as The Whites.
His accomplishments include winning 14 Grammy awards, eight Academy of Country Music awards and eight Country Music Association awards, including CMA Entertainer of the Year in 1985.
DAILEY & VINCENT, OCT. 19: Darrin Vincent (brother of bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent) actually was a member of Skaggs’ popular Kentucky Thunder band before forming the duo Dailey & Vincent in 2007 with Jamie Dailey of Doyle Lawson’s Quicksilver band.
They were an immediate hit on the bluegrass music circuit with one of their first appearances being at The Lewis Family’s Homecoming & Bluegrass Festival at Elijah Clark State Park near Lincolnton, Ga. They also have been, separately and together, at the Morris Museum of Art’s bluegrass series and at the Newberry (S.C.) Opera House.
Dailey played upright bass and guitar for eight years with Lawson’s Quicksilver band, and Vincent played guitar for 10 years with Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder group. They met in 2001 at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards show and began recording together in 2004, working as part of a compilation Christmas album of various artists.
STEEP CANYON RANGERS, NOV. 16: Another good name for this group would be The Steve Martin Band, because they have backed the famous comedian, movie star and banjo player at many major shows and TV appearances.
They have gone from playing at Still Water Taproom on Broad Street just a few years ago to performing in Carnegie Hall, Ryman Auditorium and the Kennedy Center.
Steep Canyon Rangers and Martin collaborated on the album Rare Bird Alert, which was released in 2011 and earned a 2012 Grammy nomination. It lost out to Alison Krauss and Union Station’s CD Paper Airplane.
SUZY BOGGUSS, DEC. 14: This well-known country music star will be making her first Southern Soul & Song appearance just a few days before her birthday on Dec. 30.
She was born and reared in Illinois, where her father was a machinist for International Harvester and her mother was a secretary who taught Bogguss at an early age to read vocal music.
In 1980, she graduated from Illinois State University with a bachelor’s degree in art with a concentration in metalsmithery.
For five years, she took her love of music on the road touring the country in a camper truck; performing wherever she could.
She moved to Nashville, Tenn., in 1985 and began singing on demonstration recordings by day and singing three nights a week at a local rib joint. It was a tape of her music that she sold at an appearance at Dolly Parton’s Dollywood theme park that caught the attention of a major label in Nashville.
Besides her several recordings, Boggus also can be heard on national radio commercials for Coca-Cola.
SAM BUSH, JAN. 18: The first visual contact most Augustans had of Bush was when he joined guitarist Jon Randall, banjo player Scott Vestal and other musicians to perform the music for the Augusta Ballet’s 2001 original production of The Legend of the Hatfields and McCoys at the Imperial Theatre.
Bush and Randall played for five years together in Emmylou Harris’ Nash Ramblers band, including when Harris won a Grammy Award for her album At the Ryman.
He already had made his Grand Ole Opry guest artist debut at 16 when Opry legend Roy Acuff, a family friend, one night decided to put Bush on Acuff’s portion of the Opry that night.
Bush is a leader in “newgrass” music, which uses bluegrass as its base but adds jazz, blues, rock and other influences. The Kentucky state House and Senate in fact passed a resolution designating Bush as “The Father of Newgrass Music” and Bowling Green as “The Birthplace of Newgrass Music.”
He also was a member of the popular Bluegrass Alliance band out of Louisville, Ky., before forming co-forming The New Grass Revival band.
MIKE FARRIS & THE ROSELAND RHYTHM REVUE, FEB. 15: Black gospel music and also rhythm and blues formed the style of performing for which Farris is known.
He told this columnist that his life was changed by the daughter of his school bus driver (“a large black lady with a gold tooth in the front of her mouth”) who would play her radio on the bus going to school and back home.
“She would have it tuned in to Winchester radio station WCDT, 1340 AM, and it would play everything from The Supremes to Kenny Rogers to Merle Haggard to ZZ Top and some disco number,” Farris recalled. “There always, however, would be a good healthy heaping of black music.”
Farris said those bus rides infused in him “a common thread of what I’ve been drawn to all my life: music that has a real soulful groove to pull me in.”
It was his 2007 CD Salvation in Lights, rooted in Farris’ love of black gospel music that gained him much attention and fame.