Bluegrass Legend Ricky Skaggs Headlines Country Music salute at Cal State Northridge.
Bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs and his band, Kentucky Thunder, ride into the Plaza del Sol Performance Hall (formerly the Performing Arts Center) on Saturday, April 14, at 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 15 at 2 p.m. for a two-day campus-wide salute to Country Music! Fresh off their 12th Grammy Award for their latest Bluegrass album, Just Instrumentals, the Skaggs performances are expected to be a quick sell-out.
Beyond his award-winning records, Ricky continues to lead the charge in bringing renewed vitality to country music’s most down-to-earth art form, and has become one of bluegrass’ most talented and dynamic performers—carrying this lively, distinctively American form of music to the hearts of audiences across the country.
2007 marks Ricky's 36th year as a professional musician, and this twelve-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. Known affectionately today as bluegrass music's official ambassador, Ricky has brought the genre to greater levels of popularity in the past few years than the father of bluegrass music – the legendary Bill Monroe – could ever have imagined.
With nine consecutive Grammy- winning classics behind him, all from his own Skaggs Family Records label, bluegrass music is undoubtedly in good hands, with the masterful Skaggs at the helm.
Ricky was already an accomplished singer and mandolin player by the time he reached his teens. In 1971 he entered the world of professional music with his friend, the late country singer, Keith Whitley, when the two young musicians were invited to join the band of bluegrass patriarch Ralph Stanley.
Ricky soon began to build a reputation for creativity and excitement through live appearances and recordings with acts such as J.D. Crowe & the New South. He performed on the band's 1975 debut album for Rounder Records, which is widely regarded as one of the most influential bluegrass albums ever made. A stint as a bandleader with Boone Creek followed, bringing the challenges of leadership while giving him further recording and performing experience.
Ricky then turned his attention to country music. Though still in his 20s, the wealth of experience and talent he possessed served him well, first as a member of Emmylou Harris' Hot Band and later as an individual recording artist on his own. With the release of Waitin' for the Sun to Shine in 1981, Skaggs reached the top of the country charts and remained there throughout most of the 1980s.
As his popularity soared, he garnered eight awards from the Country Music Association (CMA), including "Entertainer of the Year" in 1985, four Grammy Awards and dozens of other honors. These achievements also placed him front and center in the neo-traditionalist movement, bringing renewed vitality and prominence to a sound that had been somewhat subdued by the commercialization of the Urban Cowboy fad. Renowned guitarist and producer Chet Atkins credited Skaggs with "single-handedly" saving country music.
In 1997, after Ricky's then-current recording contract was coming to an end, he decided to establish his own record label — Skaggs Family Records. Since then, Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder have released an amazing 7 consecutive Grammy-nominated classics, (5 of which went on to earn the revered award). Since then, Ricky and Skaggs Family Records have had the privilege of working with many musical talents including: The Del McCoury Band, The Whites, Mountain Heart, Blue Highway, Melonie Cannon, Alison Krauss, Keith Sewell and 13-year wonderkind, Ryan Holladay.
Skaggs first all-live album with Kentucky Thunder, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder – Live at the CharlestonMusic Hall, helped the band net the award for the IBMA's Instrumental Group of the Year. (This is an award Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder has won seven out of the last eight years!) The decision to record a live album was an obvious one for Skaggs – the current configuration of Kentucky Thunder ranks among the best group of musicians with whom he has ever worked.
"This group of guys meets my approval every night," Ricky says. "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." The all-star lineup of Kentucky Thunder includes: Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Paul Brewster (tenor vocals, rhythm guitar), Mark Fain (bass), Jim Mills (banjo), Cody Kilby (lead guitar) and Darrin Vincent (baritone vocals, rhythm guitar). Live at the Charleston Music Hall was honored in 2004 with a Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for the Harley Allen-penned track "A Simple Life." In 2005, his album Brand New Strings earned him another Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album – marking his 11th career Grammy, again followed in 2007 with another Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, Just Instrumentals!
Ricky Skaggs has often said that he is "just trying to make a living" playing the music he loves. But it's clear that his passion for bluegrass puts him in the position to bring this lively, distinctively American form of music out of isolation and into the ears and hearts of audiences across the country and around the world. Blessed with a close-knit family, an abundance of talent, a lifetime of musical experience and a crack band behind him, Ricky Skaggs is well on the way to showing the world that "country rocks, but Bluegrass Rules!"
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will be at the Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge, on Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15. Tickets are available frofm $30-$75. There are a limited number of student tickets available at $30 each (limit 2 per student) with proper ID. 20% Group Discounts for 10 or more are available by call ing 818-677-7686. Parking is $4 at all times. All regular priced single tickets can be purchased by calling the Ticket Office at 818-677-2488 or log on to: www.ArtsNorthridge.csun.com.
The Performing Arts Center is located off the west side of Zelzah Avenue, between Prairie and Plummer Streets in the Plaza del Sol complex. Patrons should use Parking Lot G4 and follow the orange signs to the ticket office, located under the PAC staircase. For more information contact: Therri Donnelly, 818-677-7686, Fax 818-677-5472 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
High-resolution photographs (300dpi) are available for download at www.ArtsNorthridge.csun.com