“Wielding a Bourgeois flat-top, Kilby lays down clean, fast lines and outrageous solos that push the envelope of acoustic lead guitar. His clarity, power, and dexterity are matched by an ability to spin melodies that sound free, yet artfully composed.”

Guitar Player Magazine


When I hired Cody, I knew that he had something special. I could hear it in his playing. Cody's timing and choice of notes, make for some of the best guitar solos I've ever heard in bluegrass music. His great tone is also something that a lot of guitar players don't have. When you listen to Cody's playing you wouldn't think that he is still in his twenties. That's what amazes me every night, knowing that he's still going to get better as a player. I'm very proud to have him in my band Kentucky Thunder. I know you'll enjoy this long awaited project. Cody is also a great writer, as he wrote most all the songs on this CD.

Ricky Skaggs

Cody Kilby is a freak of nature.  Cody Kilby's guitar playing makes my toes curl.  I would take Cody Kilby over Beowulf any day.

Bruce Hornsby


The careers of many child stars are often short-lived when the attention fades; and to continue to stay at the top of their field requires more and more work, often with fewer incentives, many never reach the next level of performance. Not so with Cody Kilby, perhaps because his early success was due to his natural genius being matched only by equal parts determination and discipline.

By now, the boy-wonder beginnings of star instrumentalist Cody Kilby are well-known to fans of bluegrass and acoustic music; a true prodigy, he picked up his dad’s banjo at age 8 and by the time he was 11, he had a Gibson banjo endorsement. He started playing his mom’s guitar at 10, and by 17, he was the National Flatpicking Champion. He added mandolin and Dobro around age 13, and at 16, recorded Just Me, showcasing his mastery of all the instruments on the recording. He was at home in the spotlight, competing under the pressure of many prestigious contests, performing at the Grand Ole Opry and on television shows like TNN’s Crook and Chase and Dick Clark’s Prime Time Country. But Cody’s early success didn’t spoil him for the hard work and dedication of the life of a professional musician, it only fueled his passion for exploring the endless potential of music, and more and more, he found his dreams were inextricably bound to the creative process of playing.

When Cody walked through my door for the first time to audition for our band, he was unabashedly sporting a shiner from a slight altercation the night before, and somehow that blackened eye was a fitting symbol for his nature: a scrapper, ready for anything, not willing to back down.  Even as he picked his mandolin in my kitchen, he sat on the very edge of his chair, eagerly leaning forward on the balls of his feet, as if he was ready to spring at the slightest provocation.  As he flew through the changes, clean, fluid notes streaming from his instrument, I sensed more than his obvious virtuosity; there was a quality about his playing, about him, that I could only think of as... "hunger".   He has an insatiable appetite for music, for musical ideas and techniques, and he consumes every new challenge.  When he picked up his guitar to play lilting lines while I sang the song we’ve recorded here, "She",  I knew he was more than an intense, lightning-fast player;  he was a complex and complete musician, and I was privileged to have met him and played with him.

Since then, he’s proven himself as an ensemble player as the respected and valued lead guitarist in the Grammy-winning instrumental powerhouse band, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.  These days, he finds himself playing beside his heroes, experiencing musical highs like trading solos with virtuoso legend Bruce Hornsby the other night in New York City. He’s called to produce and engineer recordings on his rare spare moments at his home studio.

Here, on Many Roads Traveled, Cody offers his own instrumental compositions, and he explores his love of accompanying singers; what is immediately striking is his ability to move between bold, innovative fire to intuitive, tuneful interpretation of beautiful melodies.  One cannot help but be staggered by his sheer athletic ability, in the strength and agility he delivers, but at the same time, be moved by the tenderness of his approach to more sensitive treatments of ballads and vocal songs.  He is surrounded here by an astounding cast of players, and he belongs among them. Let listening to this recording deepen your appreciation of this gifted artist, as it has mine.

Sally Jones