“You know Brian”, my uncle proclaimed, “Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley used to come into my barber shop and sell me their homemade records when they were trying to get started. I still have them somewhere.” I had heard that story at least a half dozen times, but I loved to listen to it each time. After all, these local bluegrass legends had transformed into the biggest stars on country radio. I grew up in Sandy Hook, Kentucky, surrounded by beautiful bluegrass music at every turn. Such was life those days in Eastern Kentucky. World class pickers and singers would literally be performing in a small church on Sunday, at a charity soup bean dinner for the volunteer fire department on Wednesday night, and at a local festival on Friday. At the time, I do not know if I truly appreciated how remarkable it was to have this sort of talent at the tip of my fingers. Even more amazing than the musical talent, was the sense of community that came along with this world. Since college, I have lived in Lexington, and I miss those days of hearing an impromptu picking session at a small gathering. A few years ago, I did happen into a spontaneous Dwight Whitley (Keith’s brother) performance at a country store near my parents’ house over a holiday weekend. Back around 2009, I went to a bluegrass festival in Morehead and I even got lucky enough to see the headlining band’s front man jam on a carport with some other pickers after the show. This up-and-coming Eastern Kentucky musician was named Chris Stapleton. As magical as these days were, they are too few and far between.
When we became involved with the Kentucky Castle, we knew were fortunate to be involved with an iconic piece of Kentucky lore. We soon realized we had the opportunity to use the castle as a platform for Kentucky’s rich heritage and industries. As lifelong Kentuckians, we immediately found ways to incorporate horses, bourbon, and basketball into our activities and offerings. Now, we are thrilled that we have found the perfect opportunity to showcase the art form born here in our commonwealth….bluegrass music. We have partnered with Michael Johnathon and the Troubadour Series to bring Kentucky’s music home for celebration in the state’s most beautiful venue. We will be hosting a series of legends in bluegrass and folk music this Summer and Fall, and we literally CANNOT wait. From international stars like the Kruger Brothers and the acclaimed Western string band, Riders in the Sky, to bluegrass royalty like Jerry Douglas and Doyle Lawson, we have prepared a lineup of Grammy winners and critically acclaimed musical royalty that we are really proud of. John McEuen, the founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will be bringing his famous banjo and collection of hits. And I personally cannot think of anything more stirring than seeing Kentucky native Darrell Scott bellow the lines of his Eastern Kentucky anthem, “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” into the Versailles sky. We hope you will join us for an exclusive and unforgettable small venue musical experience at the Kentucky Castle.