KENTUCKY THUNDER BAND MEMBER BIOS
"This group of guys meets my approval every night," Ricky says. "Each and every one of the pickers in Kentucky Thunder totally amazes me in every show...and that, to me, outweighs any award we could ever win." The all-star lineup of Kentucky Thunder includes Paul Brewster (tenor vocals, rhythm guitar), Scott Mulvahill (bass, bass vocals), Russ Carson (banjo), Jake Workman (lead guitar), Mike Barnett (fiddle) and Dennis Parker (baritone vocals, guitar).
Knoxville, Tennessee's Paul Brewster began his music career with the band Knoxville Grass, singing lead and tenor vocals and playing rhythm guitar. After ten years with the Osborne Brothers and brief stints with the Pinnacle Boys and Dollywood bluegrass band, True Blue, he was asked to become a member of Kentucky Thunder. In addition to lending his unmistakable tenor to countless Ricky Skaggs albums, Brewster is also an accomplished songwriter and solo artist. In 2001, he teamed up with former band-mate Mark Fain to co-produce Everybody's Talkin', his first solo project for Skaggs Family Records.
Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Scott Mulvahill grew up in Southeast Texas. At age 14, Scott picked up the bass guitar on a whim, with natural talent and the lure of a challenge driving him to be the best musician that he could be. While continuing to play the bass, he also began to explore singing, the guitar and piano. With the encouragement of a mentor, it became clear to him that he was destined for a career in music and he immersed himself in a multitude of genres; studying jazz, classical, rock and much in between. Scott released his first album of original songs in January 2011. In addition to playing his own music, Scott works as a sideman and is honored to have performed with many remarkable musicians. As a band member of Kentucky Thunder, he plays bass and sings low harmony.
Russ Carson grew up in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, and came by his passion for bluegrass and the banjo, in particular, honestly. His father, Glenn, made handcrafted banjos along with playing the fiddle and Clawhammer banjo since the early 1970's. As a result of the never ending string of live music while growing up, Russ started taking banjo lessons at age 10. He was a previous bluegrass band member with Gold Heart and Audie Blaylock & Redline. During that time period, he was able to work with and learn from industry legends such as Del & Ronnie McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Carl Jackson, Glen Duncan, Lou Reid and many more. Russ plays the banjo in Kentucky Thunder.
Jake Workman, hailing from Draper, Utah, began playing the guitar when he received one for his 13th birthday in 2001. A year and a half later after starting the guitar, Jake’s introduction to bluegrass music came when his parents surprised him with a banjo for Christmas. Jake’s love for bluegrass grew heavily over the next few years as he attended jams and festivals throughout the Western states and eventually the entire country. He entered many instrument contests and won many titles on guitar, banjo and mandolin. In 2007 while attending the National Flat Pick Guitar Championship in Winfield, Kansas, Jake met other musicians that later would help form the Midwest-based band, Driven. Jake has also played in Salt Lake City based groups Cold Creek, The Aaron Ashton Band, and the Jake and Rebekah Workman Band. He has a degree in jazz guitar performance from the University of Utah and his playing showcases his extensive knowledge in rock and jazz genres, but he is mostly influenced by traditional bluegrass. When not performing, he teaches many private lessons, writes music and works in the studio. Jake was recently featured on the cover of the May/June 2015 issue of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine and is the lead guitarist for Kentucky Thunder.
Mike Barnett was born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, and has a special place in his heart for bluegrass and country music. At age 14, Mike recorded his first CD, Lost Indian, a collection of traditional fiddle classics. At 15 years of age, he was invited to teach alongside fiddle greats Vassar Clemens, Buddy Spicher, and Bobby Hicks at the Vanderbilt Blair School of Music International Fiddle Camp. In 2009 while attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mike joined the David Grisman Quintet (DGQ) to form a sextet. He has also toured with bluegrass icon Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys, banjo player Tony Trischka, the Gordon Stone Trio, Northern Lights--one of New England’s renowned folk bands--along with mandolinist Joe Walsh, the band The Deadly Gentlemen, guitarist Bryan Sutton, and has shared the stage with banjoists Bela Fleck, comedian Steve Martin, and Greg Liszt. Mike was the recipient of the 2007 Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin created by Jonathan Cooper, awarded at the Mark O’Connor String Conference. He has recorded with numerous musicians as well as on his own, with the most recent being One Song Romance, a compilation of all original music. Mike is the new fiddle player for Kentucky Thunder.
Dennis Parker is no stranger working with Ricky Skaggs, being a former member of Kentucky Thunder and sharing a GRAMMY win on Ricky Skaggs’ Bluegrass Rules! album with guitar, mandolin and vocal credits on the successful release. Dennis has also played professionally with Lee Ann Womack, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie, and Mark Chesnutt, among others. He is equally at home playing blues, soul, country, gospel, pop, and contemporary Christian music styles. Dennis is a master at multiple instruments including fiddle, banjo and mandolin, but favors the guitar. As a musician full of soul, it is revealed in his playing style, his vocals, and at times in his right leg! Dennis is a previous state contest winner on fiddle, banjo and guitar and has won multiple other contests in many states. As a baritone vocalist and guitarist for Kentucky Thunder, we welcome Dennis back working with Ricky and the band.