This fall Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder flew across the pond to play a show in Switzerland during Country Night Gstaad. We caught up with him to talk about his shows in Europe, his recently released album with long time wife Sharon and more.
Thank you Ricky for taking the time to answer some of our questions. You’ve been coming out to play in Europe for many years now. Obviously the audience loves your combination of bluegrass and country music.
Yes. We always love playing out here. I wanna bring Sharon back again next year. We just completed our very first CD, Hearts Like Ours. And it’s so country! I’m talking barnyard country…you could smell…no haha. I think that out of the 13 songs there are 10 with peddle steel guitar and fiddle so you know it’s country. Real country, not new country. Old country! I like some of the new country but this is what I and Sharon, and the Whites, were doing in the 80’s. Like it used to be. Some good songs and we’re so happy to finally do this project after so many years.
We have the first single out now. It’s called “Forever’s Not Long Enough”. I’m playing my red telecaster and she’s singing so beautifully. It’s a good one.
The album cover is so sweet. It’s really shows our love and how we’ve grown in 33 years of marriage.
That’s a long time. There must be a lot to tell.
A lot to tell! I think the stories, the songs, really tell a great story about our commitment to each other and our commitment to Christ.
Now that you’ve released a country album and not a bluegrass album. Will you also be touring to support your country side so to speak?
We will and we’ve done that before a few years ago when touring with Reba, Lonestar and Asleep At The Wheel. We opened the show with bluegrass for about 20 minutes and then brought out my drummer, steel guitar player and piano player and did our country thing. We did “Honey”, “Heartbroke” and things like that. The audience loves both and we always try to give them a good mix. But if we get to tour with Sharon we would try to do more of the country side and our latest record. It’s nice to have a band that can play both.
We’ve just seen your band play and were able to see an interesting range of age and experience. There are some incredibly young talented musicians.
Like I was once. I’m still talented but old now, haha. I’m 60, just turned 60 in July. They say that 60 is the new 40 so I’m waiting for that to kick in! When playing a festival like Country Night Gstaad we don’t get to play a full 90 minute show so we have to pick and choose which songs to play and we chose to play an instrumental written by our lead guitarist Cody. People asked us why. Well, it’s a great song! It has a lot of power and the audience had really loved the instrumental songs all night long so I thought it was good to do that one. During a full show I would also let other band members take centre stage. The bass player is a great singer. I have would have him do a song and let Paul Brewster do a song as well. And I would let Andy, the fiddle player, do a song. I love their playing.
You have recorded hundreds of songs over the years. And will play some live but there must be songs that you haven’t played in a very long time.
There are a lot of songs that I’ve recorded that I haven’t played in a very long time. I’ve probably forgotten part of the words. I mean, gosh, I’ve done music full time since…well, I started recording in 1971. With Ralph Stanley and Keith Whitley. And I know there are a lot of songs from that time that I know I don’t remember. But in my solo career. I started in 1980 when I got my contract with CBS/Epic. Early 1981 saw my first country hit “Crying My Heart Out Over You” which I still play live. So I do play the old songs.
You recently released your book “Kentucky Traveler”. What inspired you to write your autobiography?
Well, it was time. I just knew. I’ve had an offer back in the 90’s from a publisher in Nashville to write a book. And they were more of a Christian publisher then a marketplace publisher. But I didn’t want the book to be a Christian book. I wanted it to be a book about a Christian but I did not want it to be a Christian book. I wanted it to be about my life from the beginning till the present. So I waited a little while and then Harper Collins Publishers from New York came with an offer I thought was a better option for me. Plus I had a little more to say as time had gone by. I was so busy in the 90’s and early 2000’s that I just couldn’t think of trying to take the time to write it. It’s hard enough to write as it is. It took me two years! I’m glad it’s out. I love the book and I love the response I’ve gotten from people. I’m very happy with it.
You own Skaggs Family Records. Released a beautiful album with your wife and featured relatives like your children on your Christmas CD’s. It really is a family affair for you.
It is. The Skaggs Family Christmas is me, The Whites, Kentucky Thunder and our children; Molly, Luke and Cheryl, who is Sharon’s sister, her daughter Rachel who is Andy’s, my fiddle player, wife. So when they got married it helped on hotel rooms! We have two Christmas CD’s. Volume 1 and then Volume 2 has a two hour DVD with it. I think Molly, who is also on the Mosaic album, is getting to a place where she wants to do her own record. So we’ll see what the future brings.