Skaggs Revisiting Classic Bill Monroe On New CD

Ricky Skaggs says "it's a busy time," and the bluegrass icon isn't just pickin' in the wind.

Ricky Skaggs says "it's a busy time," and the bluegrass icon isn't just pickin' in the wind.

The "Bruce Hornsby & Ricky Skaggs" bluegrass collaboration is set to come out March 20, and Skaggs is already looking down the road with at least three more projects. The most exciting of these is a tribute to the 1946-47 edition of the Bill Monroe band that featured Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. The group cut 25 songs during that period, and Skaggs tells that he and his Kentucky Thunder are recording a selection of them, which they hope to release later this year on his Skaggs Family Records label.

"There are just so many great ones they did," Skaggs says, "it's hard to pick the best of those because what made them the best was certain things that happened during the song. So it's like, 'Oh man, we gotta do this one. We gotta do that one...' I think it's going to be a great record."

Among the songs he expects to record are "Lovin' Another Man," "Bluegrass Breakdown," "When You're Lonely" and spirituals such as "Remember the Cross."

Skaggs says he's also accumulated some old photos of the artists for the package and hints at some "surprises" that could make the yet-untitled set "even cooler than it's gonna be, anyway."

"I think this could be a real landmark kind of record for that group," Skaggs explains, "bringing the elders forward and letting this new audience of bluegrass be introduced one again to the guys that really laid the foundation of the music."

Skaggs is also planning to record a second volume of "A Skaggs Family Christmas" that will be out this year, and he's working on a collection of new and traditional spirituals for his first-ever full-blown collaboration with the Whites, which features his wife Sharon White.

Skaggs also expects to be on the road with Hornsby, who shares the same booking agency, at various points throughout the year. "This could be a combination like Willie (Nelson) and Waylon (Jennings)," Skaggs notes, "where we could still have separate careers but can do shows together, and the crowd will love it. I think it could be that kind of thing between us for years to come, if we want."