JIM THORPE — After touring and playing bluegrass music since the age of 15, bluegrass veteran Ricky Skaggs, now 62, has spent plenty of time in Pennsylvania, playing shows in Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, Gettysburg and at countless county fairs across the state.
But on July 30, 14-time Grammy winner Skaggs, and his band, Kentucky Thunder, will perform at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe for the first time, and longtime fans of his are in for a slightly different show than they may be used to.
At the age of 15, Skaggs began touring with the seminal bluegrass group The Stanley Brothers as part of the back-up band.
“Ralph Stanley was my first boss,” Skaggs said. “He really carried the ancient Celtic sounds with him. He made his first recordings when he was 18, but even then he sounded like he was 80. He was always an old soul.”
On June 23, Stanley died at the age of 89. Because of this, Skaggs is looking at his shows this year as a tribute to the late bluegrass legend.
“We’ll definitely be playing more Stanley Brothers songs than people might be used to,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs said that he likes to look at his concerts as a bit of a history lesson on the genre of bluegrass in general, seeking to bring the old sounds to the audiences of today.
“Bluegrass turns 70 this year. It was first recorded back in 1946,” Skaggs said. “What we’re playing now might not be as pure as the early recordings … but we want to play the early sounds for people.”
While Skaggs is looking forward to performing a mostly bluegrass show, he said that there will still be something in store for the fans of his more traditional country music period.
“We certainly want to do the country hits as well, so folks don’t go away missing the hits they listened to 25 or 30 years ago,” Skaggs said. “We love being able to play the hits for people, even though they’ll be done in more of a bluegrass acoustic style than they’re used to.”
Even though he has not performed in Jim Thorpe before, Skaggs said he has fond memories of playing shows in Pennsylvania throughout the years.
“We played a lot of county fairs in the country music days, and we were fed by a lot of wonderful Amish cooks,” Skaggs said.
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder will take the Penn’s Peak stage on Saturday, July 30. Doors open at 6 p.m., with the show starting at 8 p.m.
In addition to the main act, Coal County Express, a bluegrass band hailing from Carbon County, will open.
For ticket pricing and information, visit Penn’s Peak’s website, at www.pennspeak.com.
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6119
IF YOU GO:
What: Ricky Skaggs concert
Where: Penn’s Peak, 325 Maury Rd.
When: Doors open at 6 p.m., show starts at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $24-$29. Available at www.pennspeak.com
More info: Call 610-826-9000