Even though people around the world know Ricky Skaggs for his incredible musical abilities, he is well aware of the fact that he must be at his absolute best when he takes the stage in Louisa Saturday evening during the city’s annual Septemberfest celebration.
“You want to be humble in your hometown,” Skaggs said last week, citing a lesson from the Bible.
“It’s been a long time actually since we played Louisa,” Skaggs said during a recent telephone interview with The Independent. He said his band once played in Lawrence County on a regular basis, “but we couldn’t get back there as often as we wanted to. It’s been 10, 12, maybe 15 years since we’ve done it.”
Skaggs said he and his band, Kentucky Thunder, will treat Saturday evening’s show in Louisa as if it were a performance in any of the world’s finest venues.
“We’ll work as hard there as we would in New York city or anywhere else,” Skaggs said. “We’re looking forward to getting back. There’s a lot of bluegrass and country music fans there and we have a lot of family and friends we want to see. It will be good to see a lot of my old high school buddies.”
Skaggs said he will be on a tight schedule while visiting the place where he grew up, and doesn’t expect much time to get out into the county.
“I won’t get to visit the Blaine area. I have to fly in from Lexington to get to the show and unfortunately, there won’t be any time to get out to Blaine to see anyone,” he said.
Skaggs’ Saturday show will feature a variety of musical styles, he said, although the multi-talented musician plans to make a point of providing a bit of a musical history lesson for some of the younger members of his audience.
“The set will generally be bluegrass,” he said, adding he hopes to slip some education into the evening’s program. “It’s amazing the young people that don’t really know bluegrass and where it came from — who started it and how it started — I think it’s important to educate the younger kids and let them know who invented it and where it came from.” Considering the Tri-State’s contributions to the world of bluegrass music, Skaggs said he will make a point of emphasizing people including Bill Monroe and The Stanley Brothers.
“We’ll also do some of the country hits and I had a new CD released last week, ‘Mosaic.’ It’s a sacred CD, it’s not gospel because it sounds much different. It is very acoustic, but it is not bluegrass. I think it is similar to my country sound with drums and piano,” he added. “I think the songs are great. They’re not like religious language. They’re more personal. We will do a song or two from it.”
As a musician whose skills were encouraged and put in the spotlight at an early age, Skaggs said he encourages other up-and-coming pickers and singers to concentrate on their craft.
“Just keep playing. Turn off the video games and things that drain your brain. If you’re going to be a great player you’ve got to spend great time with a great instrument,” Skaggs advised. “Do your chores and honor your father and mother, but concentrate on your playing.”
Music on the main stage in Louisa begins shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday with a set by Renea Jones, followed by Bobby Cyrus at 6 p.m. and Larry Cordle at 7:30, before the headline performance by Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder at 9:30 p.m.
TIM PRESTON can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (606) 326-2651.