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Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder to open season with sounds old and new

Ricky Skaggs
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If you go

  • Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder will perform on Friday night at 8 p.m. at the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival. Gates open at 6 p.m.
  • Tickets are $40 per person in the reserved pavilion seats, $35 for adult lawn seats and $10 for children's lawn seats.
  • The Beatles tribute band, "1964 ... The Tribute" will perform on Saturday at 8 p.m.
  • Other performances in the festival will feature The Fairfax Symphony Orchestra, Dailey & Vincent, Terrance Simien and the Zydeco Experience, SVMF's Folk "Mini-Festival" and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones.
  • The Shenandoah Valley Music Festival runs through Sept. 4. For more information, call the festival office at 459-3396 or visit www.musicfest.org.

By Josette Keelor-jkeelor@nvdaily.com

ORKNEY SPRINGS- When Ricky Skaggs arrives with his band Kentucky Thunder for the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival this week, he will bring not only an admirable tenure in the music business but also a history with the festival as well. In 2008 the Kentucky native sang for the first time on the stage that has hosted some of America's best musicians.

With 14 Grammy wins and 15 albums under his belt, including his most recent, "Country Hits Bluegrass Style," which was released on Tuesday, Skaggs has a lot to celebrate in his performance at Orkney Springs, his first performance following the album release.

The album, he said by phone on Monday, is "a musical makeover, if you will."

It features some of his own country hits from the 1980s like "I Don't Care" and "He Was on to Somethin'," only with a bluegrass twist.

"We stayed true to form," he said.

When asked about his last visit to the valley, he remembered how hot the weather was, and he expects it to be hot again on Friday.

"But we're looking forward to it too," he said. "I think it's gonna be a really nice, really nice time."

The Shenandoah Valley is one of his favorite parts of Virginia, he said.

Those who come out to the performance on Friday can expect to hear some of the band's greatest hits, as well as some new songs from the latest album and from 2010's "Mosaic."

"We'll be doing country, bluegrass and gospel," he said.

According to the festival's brochure, Kentucky Thunder will perform a show of Skaggs' hits with a full band sound for the first time in 20 years.

Skaggs calls the sound "Kind of in-your-face bluegrass," for which he said the band is well known.

Hailed by guitarist and producer Chet Atkins as "single-handedly" saving country music, Skaggs has been playing the mandolin since he was 5 years old, and he performed on stage at the age of 6.

Looking back on his life on Monday, his 57th birthday, Skaggs could not pick a favorite moment from his career and said, even to this day, he isn't certain he's "made it" as a star, but he can say he has no regrets.

"If it ended tomorrow I could never look back and say, 'Wow, I wish I could've done that,'" he said. "I think I'm enjoying playing music better than in my whole life."

One of his favorite moments dates back to his childhood.

"When I was 7 years old I got to play on television with Flatt and Scruggs," he said. "I thought, man this is it. I got a paycheck for $57."

"It's just a great life," he said. He and the band appreciate fans coming to their performances even in a rough economy.

"We're always, always thankful," he said.

Dennis Lynch, executive director of the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, is glad for Skaggs' return this year.

"He's one of the best known and most honored ..." Lynch said, pausing to finish the thought before adding. "Wow, pick a genre.

"[He] won 14 Grammy awards in so many different categories," Lynch said.

When Skaggs was here three years ago, Lynch said, "The public loved him."

He remembers thinking the musician has a talent for communicating with an audience.
"It's almost indescribable, it's more of an emotion, a feeling," Lynch said. "We're glad that he can come back."

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