SHIPSHEWANA — Bluegrass and country music veteran Ricky Skaggs remembers the first time his father handed him a mandolin at the ripe age of 5 years old.
“I loved the feel of wood and steel,” said Skaggs, 59. “That feeling never left. It’s just a great feeling to be able to play music and express my heart and use the gift that God has given me.”
Skaggs is bringing his talents to the Shipshewana Event Center for two Christmas shows Saturday, Dec. 7, with his wife, Sharon White, and their family. Showtimes are 1 p.m. and 7 p.m.
With his musical gift, Skaggs has won 14 Grammy Awards, released a dozen No. 1 hit singles and claimed several awards from the Country Music Association, including one for Entertainer of the Year. Skaggs, known for his songs “Country Boy” and “Crying my Heart Out Over You,” has recorded more than 30 albums and even started his own record label in 1997 called Skaggs Family Records.
Skaggs added yet another notch on his belt this past summer when he published his first autobiography. “Kentucky Traveler” reflects on more than 50 years of music, family, faith and even overcoming personal hardships.
“It’s a great American story about having a gift and taking that gift, really working on it and getting better as a musician,” described Skaggs, who was born in a small town in Kentucky and now lives in Nashville, Tenn.
While many of Skaggs’ chart-topping hits were released in the ’80s, he said that bluegrass has seen a resurgence in the past decade. Popular groups like Mumford and Sons and the Avett Brothers have thrust the genre into the spotlight once again, he said. Skaggs even recorded a bluegrass-inspired song, “Old Enough,” with The Raconteurs, fronted by Detroit-born rocker Jack White.
“I think bluegrass is really enjoying a lot of success right now just because it’s willing to come out of its comfort zone,” Skaggs said.
Skaggs’ newest album, released in August, was actually recorded in 2008 while he was on tour with Grammy Award-winning pianist Bruce Hornsby. Listening to the live songs on “Cluck Ol’ Hen” about five years later, Skaggs said they are “just as fresh and just as exciting as powerful” as they were on stage.
“There was great camaraderie between Bruce, me and the band, and you can certainly hear it on the CD,” he said. “You can hear we’re just having a ball, just having a great time, and the audience was right there with us.”
Tickets are on sale at riegsecker.com for $19 to $75, or $34 to $90 with dinner.