news-category: Campus News

15-Time Grammy Winner Ricky Skaggs Headlines Inaugural Concert in Brinkley Amphitheater

Ricky Scaggs' and Kentucky Thunder with the Brinkley Amphitheater

Performance by Master Bluegrass Musician Set During Gardner-Webb’s Homecoming on Oct. 28

BOILING SPRINGS, N.C.—Gardner-Webb University officials are pleased to welcome 15-time Grammy winner Ricky Skaggs as the inaugural headline performer in the Brinkley Amphitheater. The concert is set during GWU Homecoming festivities on Oct. 28 at 5 p.m. General admission tickets are $35 and go on sale July 28. Tickets are available here.  

Skaggs, along with Kentucky Thunder, will bring his legendary style and energy to Boiling Springs and launch a venue that will host a variety of arts and entertainment for years to come.  

“This is precisely how we wanted to open our new amphitheater—a nationally recognized musician bringing his tour to our campus on one of the biggest days of the year (Homecoming),” applauded Gardner-Webb President Dr. William M. Downs. “Personally, I can’t wait…I’ve been watching the new venue take shape each and every day, and now we can mark our calendars for what will certainly be a memorable inaugural concert. This is a great win for GWU and for our community.”  

The 800-seat Brinkley Amphitheater is named for David and Marie Brinkley, longtime University donors who provided the lead naming gift. Additional support for the outdoor performance complex came from a $500,000 budget appropriation from the North Carolina General Assembly, with endorsements from the Boiling Springs Town Council and the Cleveland County Board of Commissioners. Several other university donors have also generously provided financial contributions towards this project.

A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Bluegrass Hall of Fame, Skaggs struck his first chords on a mandolin over 60 years ago. By age 6, he was playing mandolin on stage with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe and appeared on TV with Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs at 7. By age 21, Skaggs was already considered a “recognized master” of bluegrass, one of America’s most demanding art forms. His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact.  

Skaggs emerged as a professional bluegrass musician in 1971, when he and his friend Keith Whitley were invited to join the legendary Ralph Stanley’s band the Clinch Mountain Boys. He then went on to record and perform with progressive bluegrass acts like the Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe & the New South, whose self-titled 1975 Rounder Records debut album was instantly recognized as a landmark bluegrass achievement. He then led Boone Creek, which also featured Dobro ace and fellow New South alumnus Jerry Douglas.  

But Skaggs turned to the more mainstream country music genre in the late ‘70s when he joined Emmylou Harris’s Hot Band, replacing Rodney Crowell. He became a recording artist in his own right in 1981 when his Epic label debut album, “Waitin’ for the Sun to Shine,” topped the country charts and yielded a pair of #1 hits. Overall, his productive stay at Epic Records would result in a total of 12 #1 hits. Additionally, he garnered eight Country Music Association Awards—including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985.  

Will Jones

Skaggs’ 1997 album, “Bluegrass Rules!,” released on his newly-formed Skaggs Family Records label, marked a triumphant return to bluegrass—which he’s solidified ever since with a series of Grammy Award-winning albums, recorded with his amazing bluegrass band, Kentucky Thunder (eight-time winners of the IBMA ‘Instrumental Group of the Year’). Skaggs’ label has also served as a home for similar bluegrass and roots music-oriented artists including The Whites.  

Opening for Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder will be Will Jones, who grew up in Virginia listening to the twangs of mandolin, banjo and fiddle played by his dad. Jones was a fast learner and by the time he was 7 years old, he played lead guitar in his father’s regional touring band. Jones’ music is described as country with a sharp bluegrass edge that’s undeniable in the timbre of his voice and the storytelling in his songwriting.  

Lindy Bryson

Gardner-Webb student Lindy Bryson will have the honor of being the first musician to perform on the Brinkley Amphitheater stage as she opens for Jones. Bryson started singing in church when she was 3 years old and has loved music ever since. Her new song. “Muddy Waters,” won first place in the Don Gibson Singer Songwriter Competition.  

This concert is made possible in part with a grant from the Town of Boiling Springs TDA. WNCW 88.7 FM is a media sponsor.

There are handicapped seating areas at the top level and at the ground level of the amphitheater.

Auxiliary aids will be made available to persons with disabilities upon request 10 working days prior to the event.  Please call 704-406-4270 or email [email protected] with your request.

Gardner-Webb University is North Carolina’s recognized leader in private, Christian higher education. A Carnegie-Classified Doctoral/Professional University, GWU is home to nine colleges and schools, more than 80 undergraduate and graduate majors, and a world-class faculty. Located on a beautiful 225-acre campus in Boiling Springs, N.C., Gardner-Webb prepares graduates to impact their chosen professions, equips them with the skills to advance the frontiers of knowledge, and inspires them to make a positive and lasting difference in the lives of others. Ignite your future at

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