Bluegrass and country music legend Ricky Skaggs will be the guest of honor at the 11th annual Celebration of ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic and Country Music, set for Saturday, April 19 at the Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown Bristol. Show time is 7 p.m.
Skaggs will present a selection of songs, accompanied by the ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, during a special segment of the program. His recent autobiography, "Kentucky Traveler: My Life in Music," will be available for purchase at the event.
The concert showcases the top bands in ETSU's Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies program. Among the other performers will be the ETSU Celtic and Country Pride Bands, the newly founded ETSU Mandolin Orchestra and international students from Iran, England, Canada and Scotland.
A native of Cordell, Ky., Skaggs showed signs of future stardom at an early age, playing mandolin on stage with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe when he was 5 and appearing on TV with Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs at the age of 7. He emerged as a professional bluegrass musician in 1971, when he and his friend Keith Whitley were invited to join the legendary Ralph Stanley's band the Clinch Mountain Boys.
Skaggs then went on to record and perform with progressive bluegrass acts like the Country Gentlemen and J.D. Crowe & the New South, whose self-titled 1975 Rounder Records debut album was instantly recognized as a landmark bluegrass achievement. He then led Boone Creek, which also featured Dobro ace and fellow New South alumnus Jerry Douglas.
But Skaggs turned to the more mainstream country music genre in the late '70s when he joined Emmylou Harris' Hot Band, replacing Rodney Crowell. He became a recording artist in his own right in 1981 when his Epic label debut album "Waitin' for the Sun to Shine" topped the country charts and yielded a pair of number one hits. Overall, his productive stay at Epic Records would result in a total of 12 number one hits. Additionally, he garnered eight Country Music Association Awards, including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985.
Skaggs fit right in with young "new-traditionalist" '80s artists like Randy Travis and helped rejuvenate the country music genre after the worn-out "Urban Cowboy" period. Skaggs put his own stamp on the country format, however, by infusing his bluegrass and traditional country music roots into the contemporary Nashville sound.
Skaggs' 1997 album "Bluegrass Rules!," released on his newly-formed Skaggs Family Records label, marked a triumphant return to bluegrass — which he's solidified ever since with a series of Grammy Award-winning albums, recorded with his bluegrass band Kentucky Thunder (eight-time winners of the IBMA's Instrumental Group of the Year Award). Skaggs' label has also served as a home for similar bluegrass and roots music-oriented artists, including Cherryholmes and The Whites.
Skaggs' latest project, "Cluck Ol' Hen," released in 2013, is a live album of performances recorded during Skaggs' tour with pianist Bruce Hornsby.
Offering the world's first bachelor of arts degree in Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies, ETSU is widely considered the "home of bluegrass, old time and country music in higher education." Since 1982, students from around the world have learned traditional Appalachian music on the ETSU campus.
Tickets are $16 for adults and $12 for students, children and seniors.
For tickets, call the Paramount box office at (423) 274-8920. For more information, call the Bluegrass, Old Time and Country Music Studies office at (423) 439-7072.comments powered by Disqus