PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. - Dollywood guests are in for a treat as bluegrass legend Ricky Skaggs debuts several new songs during his appearances this weekend to kick off Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass festival.
Skaggs, set to perform two free concerts each day on May 25-26, is just the first during the 16-day festival which also includes Rhonda Vincent & The Rage (June 2-3), Marty Raybon (May 31-June 1), Dailey & Vincent (June 2-3), Riders in the Sky (June 7-8), Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike (May 25-26), The Willis Clan (June 1-9), Breaking Grass (June 1-4) and many more. All concerts are free and included with park admission.
In addition to the great bluegrass music, guests can find ribs by the slab, pulled pork, barbequed chicken and smoked sausage among the many award-winning barbeque masterpieces throughout the park. A heaping helping of classic side dishes and desserts, like roasted corn on the cob, macaroni and cheese and banana pudding, help round out the tasty menu.
Along with his band Kentucky Thunder, Skaggs is excited to return to Dollywood for the annual event. According to Skaggs, Dollywood's Barbeque & Bluegrass provides just the perfect atmosphere for his blend of bluegrass music.
"Dollywood is just right for bluegrass," said the 14-time Grammy Award winner. "Everything is country, mountains and down to earth. This music fits the theme of this park more than anything else. There is richness from the mountains that we love, and I'm thankful the park has kept that theme. I love Dollywood, and the crowds we get there are great, too. They expect good bluegrass music, and we do our best to give it to them."
Skaggs plans to play a handful of songs from his new record, Music to My Ears, during his visit to Dollywood. He anticipates a playlist featuring the new songs, a few gospel tunes, as well as a few of his old hits. Dollywood guests should expect a little of everything from the 1985 Country Music Association Entertainer of the Year.
"We have a new record and this will be one of the first times we have been able to perform many of the new songs," he explained. "We've got four or five of the new songs that we will be showcasing during our time at Dollywood, so there will be a lot of new material for our fans. During that show, we're going to devote some time to the new songs, but we'll throw in some gospel songs, and maybe a few old hits the fans will remember from years ago.
"We look forward to seeing how the folks like the new songs. It is always fun. We love coming to Dollywood."
Skaggs' creativity, combined with a large dose of God-given talent, certainly makes him a crowd favorite. After learning how to play the mandolin at five, Skaggs was able to play with all of his childhood heroes by the age of 10. He has yet to slow down.
"There is a Bible verse that says a man's gifts will bring him before great people," he said. "That has been alive in my life. I have been able to play and sing for presidents and play in front of great people like Billy Graham. I have had great friendships with people like him, and other great entertainers, Dolly Parton included. She has been a great friend for a long time, and I'll always appreciate her. This has been an amazing journey, and God's hand has been on my life since the beginning."
Guests experience the best of bluegrass and the tastiest barbeque during this festive kick off to summer. Please visit www.dollywood.com for a complete schedule and listing of performers.