RIPLEY - When Johnny Staats and the Delivery Boys take the stage on Saturday for Main Street Ripley's celebration of West Virginia's 150th Birthday on the Jackson County Courthouse lawn, Staats will be right at home as he performs for the fans of the county that he calls home.
"Honestly, I can't think of a place I would rather be playing music. It is always a blessing when we can perform here. It's just a special feeling and I don't take that for granted," said Staats.
Staats, a Sandyville resident, has managed to juggle a successful music career with a day job and most importantly to him, his responsibilities as a husband and father of two.
"My wife (Lori) has been very patient and supportive over the years and I couldn't do what I do without her. She is an amazing woman."
The groups latest CD "Time Moves On" is a bittersweet reminder of the influence of his father who passed away three years ago after a battle with Cancer.
"My Father wrote the title track for the CD and the record is dedicated to him. Growing up, our home was full of music and everyone played. My father picked guitar, my mother plays piano, my sister plays the banjo and we all bonded through music. The gift of music that they gave to me is very important in my life," said Staats.
Staats' first Giant Records release was Wires and Wood (2000) and the recording catapulted the picker to world-wide fame as musicians around the globe had to know who was behind that amazing picking.
"With that record came the realization that I didn't want to live in Nashville. That is not my home. My home is in West Virginia and I had to find a way to balance it all. I have zero desire to live my life out of a tour bus."
With the success of the record came opportunities to play with and back up other artists.
"I have had offers that I had to consider but in the end, I am very happy with how things have worked out and I wouldn't change a thing," added Staats.
"I still enjoy sharing the stage with artists like Brad Paisley and Ricky Skaggs. I consider it a blessing to do so."
Staats will retire in five years from his job as a delivery driver for United Parcel Service. He says he is open to playing more music at that time.
"With my retirement in hand, I know that my family will be taken care of and then I will open up and play more dates. Music isn't my life by any means. It is just a part of it," said Staats.
Staats teamed up with Sissonville native and National Flatpicking Champion Robert Shafer to record a CD titled "Pickin' Up Steam" in 2004.
Page 2 of 2 - "He and I play gigs as a duo and it is always a joy to be around Robert and make music with him."
Staats has played the Grand Ole Opry five times, has appeared on ABC News, CNN, NBC's Today Show and has been featured in People Magazine.
He won Charleston's Vandalia Gathering-Mandolin championships in 1996, 1997, and 1999. In 1997 he also won the guitar title and placed third in the fiddle competition.
The Jackson County native is an avid raccoon hunter and his "Johnny Staats Bluegrass Festival" is a part of the Parkersburg's homecoming every year. He also supports local luthiers by playing instruments made locally.
What's in the future for Johnny Staats?
"Tonight (Thursday) we play in Wheeling with Kathy Mattea and the Wheeling Symphony."
One thing is for certain - Rain or shine, Johnny Staats will deliver the goods.