Ricky Skaggs says he is ready to play a show for “the long-lost cousins and cousins of those cousins,” when he returns to Ashland’s Paramount Arts Center for a concert on Saturday.
“The worst thing in the world, at 59 years old, is I may not remember somebody I went to school with,” Skaggs said on his birthday last week. “Between the Skaggs, the Thompsons, the Fergusons and the Fyffes, I have a lot of relatives still in the hills there.”
While the mandolin remains Skaggs’ “primary instrument,” the veteran picker from rural Lawrence County said he also plans to play some guitar, “and I may bring my fiddle,” for the weekend concert at the Paramount. Skaggs said the local audience can expect to hear old favorites as well as new music which he is personally excited to play.
The Ashland concert will feature songs from his latest album “Music to My Ears,” including a tribute to Doc Watson, as well as gospel songs from his 2010 album “Mosaic,” combined with tunes such as “Highway 40 Blues” and “Uncle Penn,” and familiar favorites made famous by people including Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs.
“It’s just a fun show. Lots of laughs,” he said, just before excitedly adding the band will also be playing a song written about “the funny things Bill Monroe said.
“It’s called ‘You Can’t Hurt Ham,’” he said, explaining the title comes from an observation father of bluegrass once made about country ham. “We’ll have to put the ham on them when we come to Ashland!”
Skaggs said he is also excited about a pair of new projects which will be released in the days ahead. The first is his book, “Kentucky Traveler,” which will be released nationwide on Aug. 13.
“It is my first autobiography. It’ll probably be my last,” he said with a chuckle before explaining he is already considering an update for the book.
“Kentucky Traveler” chronicles Skaggs’ life on and off stage during his 50 years in the music business and includes many memories of his mentor, Bill Monroe, in addition to observations about life and Christian faith.
Skaggs’ enthusiasm also becomes apparent when speaks about his latest recording alongside Bruce Hornsby, titled “Cluck, Ol’ Hen.” The album is set for release Aug. 20, followed by concert performances with Hornsby in 13 different cities across the U.S.
“We’re really excited about that record, and the live versions of those songs are just amazing,” he said.
Tickets for Ricky Skaggs’ performance in Ashland remain available for $30, $35 and $40. For information or to make an order, call (606) 324-3175, or visit paramountartscenter.com on the Internet.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.