Vital Signs

Answering the Call

Brand New Strings

by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder

Recorded and mixed at Skaggs Place Studios

Produced by Ricky Skaggs

When Lester Flatt’s health began to decline in 1979, he was sure of one thing: All those years, when he was playing Gospel songs with Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs, he had been an unbeliever.  Faith, however, comes by hearing, so, after a life spent resisting the call of Christ, mediated through the ancient tones of the music of his ancestors, Mr. Flatt, like the Ethiopian eunuch, was ready to have his sins washed away.  Down in his hometown of Sparta, Tennessee, his preacher took him out to a familiar creek, where he helped Lester out of his wheelchair and down into the water in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.  “Oh, why did I wait so long?” he began to exclaim as he emerged from the water, weeping at the thought of his new birth here at the end of his life.

Ricky Skaggs, chief among Bill Monroe’s disciples, has been a mandolin and fiddle virtuoso nearly all of his life, having played with Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, and Ralph and Carter Stanley by the age of ten.  Now, at 50, he is devoting himself to spreading both the good news that bluegrass is as good as ever and the Good News of Christ.  Like Flatt, though, Skaggs took a few detours before heading back home.

In the late...

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