Don Rigsby: 4th Generation

Don Rigsby is native to the remote, backwoods town of Isonville, Kentucky, an area rich with bluegrass tradition. He was raised in a family of talented Bluegrass and Old-Time musicians. It only made sense for him to pursue a career in the sounds and traditions he was brought up around.

As many bluegrass musicians of his generation, Rigsby grew up listening to the songs of Ralph Stanley. He also grew up around two of Stanley’s Clinch Mountain boys, Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs, who happens to be Rigsby’s cousin.

Don’s family influence taught him many of the traditional sounds of bluegrass, which he has carried with him throughout his career. He is known not only for his mandolin player, but also his powerful tenor.

At the age of 6, Rigsby attended a Ralph Stanley concert for his birthday. During the show, Keith Whitley came into the audience, grabbed Don, and brought him backstage to meet his idol, Ralph Stanley.

The influence of Ralph Stanley’s style has been evident in Rigsby’s music over the years. He has produced multiple critically acclaimed solo albums, while also playing as a member in the award-winning, Lonesome River Band.

Other noteable acts include the Bluegrass Cardinals, as well as collaboration with J.D. Crowe. He has also been involved with Longview, a group of top-ranked traditional bluegrass artists assembled by Rounder Records.

Don Rigsby is a two time Grammy nominee, two time Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America Male Vocalist of the Year, shared two IBMA awards while playing with Longview, and was also featured as a vocalist on John Fogerty’s Grammy winning album, Blue Moon Swamp.

In 2001, Rigsby returned to his Alma Mater and became the first full-time director of Morehead State University’s Kentucky Center for Traditional Music. Through this position, Rigsby aims to preserve traditional music and pass his heritage and experiences with the next generation.

In 2013, Rigsby recorded ‘Doctor’s Orders: A Tribute to Ralph Stanley.’ Just as he has throughout his long, rich career, Rigsby preserves the traditional bluegrass sound while tipping his hat at and even singing on the same track as his hero.

 

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