CLEARWATER — Grammy Award-winner Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will perform Thursday, Jan. 19, at 8 p.m., at the Bilheimer Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St. in Clearwater.
Tickets start at $37.50. Visit www.rutheckerdhall.com or call 727-791-7400.
Skaggs’ career ranks among the most significant in recent country music history. If Skaggs’ burgeoning trophy case full of awards wasn’t already enough evidence of that fact, consider that legendary guitarist Chet Atkins once credited Skaggs with “single-handedly saving country music.” His life’s path has taken him to various musical genres, from where it all began in bluegrass music, to striking out on new musical journeys, while still leaving his musical roots intact
In the past decade, he has been honored with inductions into the Gospel Music Association’s Gospel Music Hall of Fame and the Musicians Hall of Fame. In 2018, Skaggs was also awarded membership into the National Fiddler Hall of Fame, the IBMA Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and country music’s greatest honor, the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Born in 1954, Skaggs showed signs of future stardom at an early age, playing mandolin on stage with bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe at age 6 and appearing on TV with Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs at age 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 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 1970s when he joined Emmylou Harris’s 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 No. 1 hits. Overall, his productive stay at Epic Records would result in a total of 12 No. 1 hits.
Additionally, he garnered eight Country Music Association Awards, including the coveted Entertainer of the Year trophy in 1985.
Skaggs’ album “Bluegrass Rules!” was released on his Skaggs Family Records label in 1997 and 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.
Kentucky Thunder includes Russ Carson on banjo, Jake Workman on lead guitar, Dennis Parker on baritone vocals and guitar, Gavin Kelso on bass, Mike Rogers on tenor vocals and rhythm guitar and Billy Contreras on fiddle.
“This group of guys meets my approval every night,” Skaggs said. “Each and every one of the pickers in Kentucky Thunder totally amazes me in every show ... and that, to me, outweighs any award we could ever win.”