Ricky Skaggs Honors Dad With New Album
Ricky Skaggs' band Kentucky Thunder has been one of bluegrass music's most important mainstays of the past decade. So it's a little surprising to learn that Skagg's latest venture is a total solo effort. It's less surprising, however, when you discover the new album's very personal concept.
'Ricky Skaggs Solo (Songs My Dad Loved)' spotlights 13 tunes introduced to young Skaggs by his dad, the late Hobert Skaggs.
"Some of these songs were my very first memories of music, of hearing my dad sing," Skaggs tells Billboard. "If I could've gotten my dad into the studio, this is how I would've wanted him to sound."
Elaborating on that sound, Skaggs says it's a blend of the quiet indie-folk of Iron & Wine and the traditional bluegrass of one of his mentors, the legendary Ralph Stanley. The album includes Skaggs' takes on songs by, naturally, the Stanley Brothers, along with others by the Monroe Brothers and Clyde Moody.
Skaggs sings every part and played every instrument himself, but he says he kept the arrangements "very modestly dressed ... just mandolin, guitar and two vocals, or two guitars and vocals, or one claw-hammer banjo or something."
And although his father would most likely approve, Skaggs admits he would probably hear some of them and remark, "There's just too much stuff on there, son."
'Ricky Skaggs Solo (Songs My Dad Loved)' will be released Sept. 15 on his own Skaggs Family Records label, but even if it's not a huge seller, Skaggs says he's happy with the result.
"I wasn't expecting anything out of it, really," he admits. "I just thought it would be a cool, fun project and the family will like it. We can give it away at Christmastime and stuff. If this sells 25 copies to the family, that'd be fine with me."