With a new album, a 53-year background in music and a thunderous backing band bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs will take the Reg Lenna Civic Center by storm.
Skaggs' performance with his longtime bandmates Kentucky Thunder on Saturday at 8 p.m. will kick-off the 2012-13 Reg Lenna Civic Center season. The show is open to the public and tickets start at $25.
Skaggs, who has fond memories of past Western New York performances, said he is looking forward to returning to the area.
Ricky Skaggs will take the Reg Lenna Civic Center stage Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $25 and are now available.
"We've played in Jamestown before, and we're looking forward to coming," Skaggs told The Post-Journal. "I love the northeast, especially this time of year because it's so beautiful."
During his performance, Skaggs will play selections from his new album "Music To My Ears," which was released on Sept. 25. According to Skaggs, the album has been very well received by audiences and critics alike.
"It's only a couple of weeks old, and we're pretty excited about it," said Skaggs. "The reviews have been absolutely stunning - like we wrote them ourselves. I'm really happy with the record because it's definitely a bluegrass record, which is something we set out to do. But, there are other kinds of songs on there as well. We've got some country-sounding songs and a little gospel too."
For those who haven't picked up a copy of the album, or heard the songs performed live, Skaggs recommends listening to several songs first including: "Blue Night,""You Can't Hurt Ham," "Music to My Ears," "New Jerusalem," "What You Are Waiting For," "You Are Something Else," "Soldier's Son," and "Nothing Beats A Family."
"I love the opening track 'Blue Night' because I think that it is so right down the middle bluegrass, which is the reason I wanted to open the CD with it," said Skaggs. "It's a great tune that Bill Monroe recorded back in the '60s, and we took it and redid it to update it. There is also a great story song on there about Monroe called 'You Can't Hurt Ham.' There is a statement that he made many years ago about some old ham biscuits that a banjo player thought were too old to eat, but Monroe ate them because he was hungry. It's a funny song that talks about the durability of cured pork in the south."
"I love what the title track "Music to My Ears" says about the power of music, that it can even bring peace to the nation and boy do we need that now," Skaggs continued. "Music is a very powerful force, and I love being a musician because I get the opportunity to go all over the world to play it. It's such a blessing to have this as a vocation."
"New Jerusalem" is another track that Skaggs is proud of. The track, although a new song, sounds 60 years old and like something that Monroe would have written himself, Skaggs said.
"What You Are Waiting For" and "You Are Something Else" are two of the tracks that head into the country territory.
"Those two could have been early '80s Ricky Skaggs country songs," said Skaggs. "If I would have added steel guitar to them they probably would have been very much traditional country sounding."
The album also features a duet entitled "Soldier's Son" with Skaggs and Barry Gibbs of the Bee Gees.
"We had talked about doing some recording together in the past, and it just seemed to work out this time," said Skaggs. "He sent me a song, and once I heard it, I knew I really wanted to record it with him. It's a stellar cut on the record that sounds like his music, but mine as well."
The final track, "Nothing Beats A Family," was the perfect way to end the record, Skaggs said.
"It's a great statement about the strength and power of family and what it means to have a good solid family when your life is going down the tubes," said Skaggs. "A real family loves, forgives and tries to restore and help."
In addition to playing some of the new songs at the Reg Lenna, Skaggs will also feature some classics and special selections. He plans on performing "Tennessee Stud" as a tribute to Doc Watson, who passed away during the recording of "Music To My Ears." As far as classics go Skaggs said he'll likely do "Uncle Pen," "Highway Forty Blues" and more.
Skaggs is also happy with the album because it shows off his band Kentucky Thunder, he said.
"They are incredibly talented guys, and of course they will be with me in Jamestown when we come up," said Skaggs. "They will bring a lot of fire. These guys are young bucks that really love the challenge every night of playing great. It's fun to have a band that you know that when walk out on to stage that you're just going to kill it."
Performing with and for young people is one of the inspirations that drives Skaggs, he said.
"I love pouring my life into young people," said Skaggs. "I try to be a father, a good role model and try to inspire the youth to practice and work hard at their instrument. It's so important for kids to know that they have an opportunity to touch the nations with music. It's something I'm very passionate about. And, I really love the excitement I see in young people out there who love this kind of music because it's real, it's honest, it's legit."
The Reg Lenna Civic Center is located at 116 E. Third St. in Jamestown. For tickets and information, visit www.reglenna.com or call 484-7070.