Listen Up: Wednesday, December 14, 2005
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PHOTOS: 1
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
The Skaggs & The Whites

A Skaggs Family Christmas: Vol. 1 (Skaggs Family Records, Inc.)

By Tom Geddie

A Skaggs Family Christmas is a relentlessly reverent and mostly upbeat Christmas c.d. for the whole family that, while using bluegrass and other traditional instruments on a dozen familiar songs and a spoken-word inspirational story, manages to never sound quite like a bluegrass album.

Throughout, the Skaggs and White families mix bass, dulcimer, fiddle, guitars, and mandolin with smaller portions of accordion, bouzouki, penny whistle, percussion, and piano. Along with a few sleigh bells, some songs also contain bordering-on-overload arrangements by the Nashville String Machine.

Ten-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs leads the way on standards like “Let it Snow,” “What Child is This?,” “Deck the Halls,” “White Christmas,” and a Western swing-sounding version of “Hangin’ Round the Mistletoe.”

Instrumentation and a semi-adventurous arrangement give the too-often-heard “Little Drummer Boy” room to breathe over five minutes and 37 seconds; Skaggs’ daughter, Molly shares clear, high vocals on this gift-of-music song. The deeper-voiced Cheryl White joins Ricky on “Mary, Did You Know?,” a weeper in which a mother is asked if she had known how important her son would grow up to be. (See: Kenny Rogers.)

The c.d. also includes Buck White’s narration of Grandpa Jones’ “The Christmas Carol,” a story that’s as obvious as it is old-time country.

With its mix of reverence and touches of seasonal fun, A Skaggs Family Christmas is a welcome, though seldom exciting, addition to any traditional Christmas song collection.


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