You started playing in Lester Flatt's band at the age of 13. When did you first meet with Ricky Skaggs, who played with the same band a couple of years before you?
"Ricky played with Ralph Stanley and the first time I saw Ricky, he and Keith Whitley were playing with Ralph Stanley and that was in 1970. That's before I had a job, I went to Lester in 1972. They were the first young guys that I ever saw that played traditional old-time bluegrass. They were great!"
I know you enjoy collecting country music memoribilia. What are some of the most precious pieces you are extremely proud of?
"Johnny Cash's first black suit, a handwritten lyrics to Hank Williams' 'I Saw The Light' and 'The Cheatin' Heart', Patsy Cline's dress is great. It's 20,000, it's just too many to think about."
Do you keep searching for new items?
"Well, I don't search the way I used to, but they have a way to find me."
Are you shopping on eBay or such places?
"No, I don't think I've ever bough anything or sold anything on eBay."
You played a great part in the Fire Down Below movie. Would you like to try out some more acting like Dwight Yoakam does?
"I don't think I'm an actor" (laughs). "I just played music in that movie. I have a friend named Billy Bob Thorton, he's one of my favorite actors. He's a real actor, I'm not a real actor."
Do you enjoy making music videos?
"I do enjoy making music videos."
Which one of yours is your favorite?
"'Farmer's Blues' with Merle Haggard."
How would you describe the importance of the Grand Ole Opry in your life?
"Oh, the Grand Ole Opry is an American institution. If you're gonna play country music, this is the absolutely most important place you can be a member of. This is the most elite place in country music."
Do you think the younger artists appreciate the Opry the same way as the older generation?
"I think there's such a tradition at the Grand Ole Opry that when you step into it regardless of your age, you have to pay attention to the tradition. And I see young stars like Carrie Underwood, Josh Turner, Dierks Bentley, those are the kind of people who joined the Grand Ole Opry and I think they are well aware of the tradition, sure."
Besides your own projects you have produced albums on Connie, the late Porter, Kathy Mattea. Do you have any more producing projects coming out?
"The next thing will be some Connie Smith records. We're working on songs for Connie right now. Three albums at one time. It's so hard to produce other people's music, because you have to really dedicate your entire yourself to it. So, it's easy to dedicate it to Connie Smith."
When you play in Europe, can you see any difference in the approach of the audience?
"I think they love traditional country music more than rock'n'roll country music and I think that's great."
Have you ever been to my country, the Czech Republic?
"I've never played the Czech Republic, I'd love to come."
Do you know anything about the Czech Republic?
"Sure, a little bit. I've met just very friendly-hearted as well I know, warm-hearted people."
Great, thank you very much.
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