NASHVILLE, TN (CelebrityAccess) — Outlaw country icon Ricky Skaggs revealed the newest members of his Kentucky Thunder band, with Mike Rogers performing tenor vocals and playing rhythm guitar and Billy Contreras on fiddle.
The two new musicians step into the roles vacated by Paul Brewster, who retired from the band, and Mike Barnett, who is recovering from a brain aneurysm he suffered in 2020.
A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist, Rogers brings his talent with drums, acoustic guitar, banjo, and steel guitar to Kentucky Thunder. In the past, Rogers has performed as a member of numerous country and bluegrass acts, including Kevin Denney, Craig Morgan, and Doyle Lawson.
In addition, he is an accomplished songwriter, having written material for Morgan, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, The Lonesome River Band and Jimmy Fortune.
A noted session musician, arranger and producer, Contreras has a developed a reputation for his fiddle playing and has recorded with a range of artists that include Lionel Hampton, George Jones, Doc Severinsen, Hank Thompson, Hank Jones, Crystal Gayle, Grady Tate, Charlie Louvin, Al Grey, Ray Price, the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, and the Nashville Symphony.
In addition, Contreras is an academic, teaching at Belmont University’s College of Music and Performing Arts in Nashville, Tennessee.
“As Paul’s been with me for more than 25 years, he made a huge impact in the sound and makeup of Kentucky Thunder,” says Skaggs. “He’s one of the best tenor singers in bluegrass music, a first-class musician and a good friend. Paul is a wonderful Christian brother as well, which has been more important to him than his great singing gift. His presence on stage and off will be missed!”
“We congratulate Paul on his retirement and wish him all the best and our thoughts and prayers are with Mike during this phase of his recovery,” adds Skaggs’ longtime manager Charlotte Scott.
“Our hearts were heavy upon hearing the news of Mike’s brain aneurysm back last summer,” Skaggs continued. “He has overcome so much and is working hard towards recovery. We can’t wait to see him get back to fiddling, of which he is a master at such a young age. My wife Sharon and I, along with the band and crew, look forward to seeing him perform again soon and all of our prayers are with him at this time for God to heal him completely.”