Synopses & Reviews
An honest, deeply American story of the power of faith, family, and music from one of America's most beloved bluegrass and country artists.
Unlike other farm boys growing up in the small town of Cordell, Kentucky, Ricky Skaggs learned to play the mandolin at five years old. Sure, plenty of other mountain boys plucked guitars or fiddles, or learned the old songs their grandparents taught them. But few tried and fewer still mastered the mandolin. By the time he was six years old, Ricky Skaggs's talent was clear enough that his daddy knew he had to get that boy onstage. When bluegrass master and mandolin virtuoso Bill Monroe rolled into a nearby small town, Ricky was there. As the crowd cheered, "Let little Ricky sing one!" so began a storied life in music.
With Bill Monroe as a mentor and with a family who supported him at every turn, Ricky joined the Clinch Mountain Boys band and became a professional musician at age fifteen. By twenty-one he was already considered a star in the bluegrass world. Yet, following the advice of music industry executives, Skaggs moved away from his roots into the world of mainstream country music—and in doing so, became a country legend and a household name.
Despite the hit singles, gold records, and successful tours, Ricky knew there was more to his mission. With a failed marriage and a sometimes strained relationship with his children, Ricky had to make a choice. He would follow God's plan, and rededicate his life to Christ, to his family, and to the music that made him. He would carry the torch lit by his musical heroes Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs, and Bill Monroe and, most important, live the life and play the music that would make his mom and dad proud. Telling the intimate stories of a successful career built on passion, drive, and faith, sharing tales of his influences, and fondly recalling the instruments that have shaped his sound over the years and the friendships that have shaped his life, Skaggs paints a unique insider look at the evolution of bluegrass.
"When he was six years old, Skaggs, who had been playing mandolin and violin at home with his father, met his destiny. One summer night in 1960, the Skaggs family heard that the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, would be playing at a local high school; piling in the car, they arrived at the school, and Skaggs's father asked Mr. Monroe if the young Ricky could play a song with the Blue Grass Boys. Before he knew it, Monroe was wrapping his big Gibson mandolin around Skaggs's neck, and he and the band were skittering off on a rendition of the Osborne Brothers' 'Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man?' Skaggs is as cracking good at telling stories as he is at singing high-lonesome melodies and letting his fingers fly across the frets of guitars and mandolins, and he delivers an entertaining and inspiring tale of his boyhood and youth in rural Kentucky and his early days playing with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys and later with J.D. Crowe and the New South; his work with Emmylou Harris in her Hot Band; and his rise to fame with his first album, Waitin' for the Sun to Shine, in 1981. Refreshingly forthright, Skaggs declares that he would have never made it to where he is today without the deep love and care of his family, his wife, Sharon (herself a member of the well-known bluegrass and gospel group, the Whites), and his faith." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“[Skaggs] career has been a matter of following a God-given calling.…He tells the stories of the first half of his life and of the rest, too, with natural enthusiasm, innate good nature, and an unflagging, positive Christian spirit.” Booklist (starred review)
In Kentucky Traveler
, Ricky Skaggs, the music legend who revived modern bluegrass music, gives a warm, honest, one-of-a-kind memoir of forty years in music—along with the Ten Commandments of Bluegrass, as handed down by Rickys mentor Bill Monroe; the Essential Guide to Bedrock Country Songs, a lovingly compiled walk through the songs that have moved Skaggs the most throughout his life; Songs the Lord Taught Us, a primer on Skaggss most essential gospel songs; and a bevy of personal snapshots of his musical heroes.
For readers of Johnny Cashs autobiography, lovers of O Brother Where Art Thou, and fans of country music and bluegrass, Kentucky Traveler is a priceless look at Americas most cherished and vibrant musical tradition through the eyes of someone who has lived it.
About the Author
Ricky Skaggs is one of the most prominent singers and musicians in the history of bluegrass and country music. He is a perennial Grammy Award-winner and continues to make records and tour with his band, Kentucky Thunder.
Eddie Dean is a veteran music journalist whose previous books include Man of Constant Sorrow: My Life and Times, cowritten with Dr. Ralph Stanley.