Rob's statement on his departure from Blue Highway

Rob issued the following statement today, as part of Blue Highway's announcement of his departure from the band:

“In 1994, I had the tremendous good fortune of being invited to join Blue Highway as a founding member. I can't imagine a better opportunity for a young dobro player, and Blue Highway has been a stellar creative home for me for 21 years. So it is truly with a heart full of gratitude -- and more than a little sadness -- that I announce my departure from the band.

There are many reasons that have led me to this decision, but it all boils down to the fact that 21 years is a long time, and I'm ready to put my energy into other musical projects. In recent years, I have done some touring in smaller ensembles. Those experiences really made me recognize how much more difficult it is for a larger band to deal with the complexities of travel, scheduling, recording, etc. The music is great, but everything that has to happen to get to that moment of creating great music is more complex and consuming.

So I am taking this step to simplify things. It is just so much easier to travel and perform on stage with a smaller group, and that is where I'm planning to focus my energy for most of my upcoming live performances.

To the guys in Blue Highway, words can't express my gratitude, and how proud I am of the deep and rich repertoire of music we have created together. To our fans, I can only say that you made our 21+ years not only possible, but also immeasurably rewarding. I hope you will continue to support both Blue Highway and myself in the future.”

See Blue Highway's related statement here.


Rob Wins an Unprecented 15th IBMA Instrumentalist Trophy

At the International Bluegrass Music Association's awards show, held held on Sept. 26, 2013 at Raleigh, North Carolina’s Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts (Memorial Auditorium), Rob Ickes won his 15th trophy for Dobro Player of the Year. This extends his record as the most awarded instrumentalist in the history of the IBMA awards. The awards show also featured the induction of Tony Rice into the IBMA Hall of Fame, with an acceptance speech by Tony that no one who was present will ever forget.


Coming in 2014: a "Trio Dobro" CD: Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas & Rob Ickes

An exciting project hits the streets on September 16: Three Bells, a “dobro trio” CD by Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes. The album was recorded in a number of sessions during 2012, whenever their schedules allowed the three to converge to record together in a studio near Auldridge’s home in Silver Spring, Maryland.

 Mike Auldridge reports, “We’ve recorded a lot of songs that I had only hoped I could record, songs that are part of my history and love affair with the dobro.” When Douglas first proposed the project, Auldridge recalls, “Jerry said to me, ‘it’s all about you,’ and he meant it. I’ve known both of these guys since they were teenagers, and I can honestly say that I love them both as if they were my sons, and at the same time, my best friends and favorite dobroplayers. It’s a pretty amazing feeling.”

 The project is rooted in the deep respect Douglas and Ickes have for Auldridge and his enduring influence on the dobro. Douglas unabashedly calls Auldridge his hero, and says “without Mike Auldridge, and Josh, there would be no me, no Rob, no anybody.” Ickes similarly credits Auldridge's influence as profound: “The first time I heard him play, it literally changed my life.” As for the 2012 recording sessions, Ickes reports: “It has been fun for me to get to hang out with Mike more this past year, and see how he works, up-close. It has been really inspiring to see how his passion for the instrument has not diminished with the passing of time.”

Douglas and Ickes said, "We (especially) want everyone to hear the incredibly powerful music that Mike has created for this project."
~ ~ ~
Mike Auldridge is a 2012 recipient of the NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the nation’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts, and a 2007 recipient of IBMA’s Lifetime Achievement Award. 


Guitar Player"Resonator Radical" on the August 2011 Guitar Player Magazine cover

Guitar Player weighs in with a 12-page feature on Rob Ickes in the August 2011 issue.

Rob's take>>




ResoSummit awards first Houston Caldwell Scholarship to Bea Brackin, age 17, of Dalton, Georgia

Bea Brackin, Houston Caldwell Scholarship winnerRob Ickes and ResoSummit are pleased to announce that the first Houston Caldwell Scholarship is awarded to Bea Brackin, age 17, of Dalton, Georgia.

This scholarship, established to honor the memory of Houston Caldwell, covers the ResoSummit registration fee ($420) for a young dobro player, age 18 and under. Additional support provided by an anonymous donor underwrites the housing and meal costs for the scholarship recipient.

ResoSummit, now in its fifth year, will be held in Nashville from November 10-13. It is “total dobro overload” by design, featuring a stellar lineup of more than ten faculty members, two resonator guitar luthiers, and 100 participants from around the world, with three days of workshops plus evening performances at The Station Inn.

Bea Brackin’s music background includes piano and flute. She often listened to her older sister’s recordings of Nickel Creek and Alison Krauss. About a year and a half ago, she tagged along to her father’s demo session where dobro player Megan Lovell (Larkin Poe, The Lovell Sisters) laid down a dobro track for one of the songs. Her father tells us: “Bea was hooked. She asked me to buy her a dobro but I thought it was just another fad so I said no. So she sold a flute of hers on eBay, found a dobro at a local pawn shop, got a DVD from Netflix, and the next thing I remember is hearing a slow version of Cripple Creek being played in our living room.”

That convinced her father that the dobro was more than a passing fad for Bea, so he arranged for her to take dobro lessons from Megan Lovell. She plays dobro in her church’s youth worship band, and she listens to and absorbs “all things reso” on YouTube, Pandora & the online dobro forum, ResoNation. Bea tells us:

I love the dobro because it is such a versatile instrument and very vocal. I enjoy bluegrass as well as new grass music, and hope to grow as a better player in many different styles of music. I hope to learn a lot more technique and ways of playing at ResoSummit. I believe that being around others who share my love of this instrument will give me new insight in how to play. I am so honored to receive the Huston Caldwell scholarship, and I am incredibly thankful for this chance to grow as a dobro player!

Bea sent in audition videos playing the Josh Graves classic, Flatt Lonesome, and a Tut Taylor tune, Reso Fandango, that demonstrated her great affinity for the dobro.

Like Houston Caldwell, Bea is a very involved, active and community-oriented teenager, and she will be able not only to benefit personally from the ResoSummit experience, but also to contribute to the remarkable sense of community and shared purpose that always arises at ResoSummit. In doing so, she will also help us all remember and honor Houston Caldwell, his many accomplishments and contributions, and most of all, the tremendous spirit and energy he shared with so many during his life.

More information about Houston Caldwell

Brothership: The Latest from Three Ring Circle

Three Ring Circle's new CD, Brothership was released 4/26/11 and is available here. In the words of Matt Blackett/Guitar Player Magazine: "The TRC boys are back, doing what they do best: raising the bar to dizzying heights in their bluegrass-meets-rock-meets-jazz world. They do it with tone, taste, and absolutely unbelievable chops..." more>>

Mountain Soul II wins the Bluegrass Grammy

Patty Loveless CD - Mountain Soul IICongrats To Patty Loveless for winning the Grammy for Bluegrass Album for Mountain Soul II.
Rob says, "I was fortunate to play on this CD along with my hero Mike Auldridge!"  Watch the video for studio footage, plus commentary from Patty about her coal miner father.
video from the session
 | CD available here


Greensboro, NC Dobro & Guitar Workshop: Rob Ickes & Jim Hurst

Rob Ickes and Jim Hurst will be performing in Greensboro, NC on Saturday, Feb. 12, and will be teaching a dobro and guitar workshop that afternoon.

Workshop details:  
3-hour workshop on Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011, 12:00 Noon till 3 PM. Location: String Studios, 604 South Elam Ave., Greensboro, Scott Manring's great teaching space. Cost: $80.

Instruction details:
Rob will teach a two hour class for dobro players; max of 10 in the class.  Jim will do likewise for guitar players. For the last hour, the two groups will come together for a Q&A/demo session with both Rob and Jim directing the class.  

Performance details:
This special performance will be held at Mack and Mack, a great clothing design studio in downtown Greensboro, at 220 South Elm Street.  Time:  8:00pm. Tickets ($20).


ResoSummit 2011: Sold Out!

ResoSummit 2011 will take place Nov. 10-13. Registration opened on Jan. 17 exclusively to those on the ResoSummit email list, and sold out that day.

Every year, we are able to extend offers to many people on our wait list, so if you are interested in attending, we encourage you to sign up for the wait list. To make sure you get the first call for registration in future years, sign up for our email list.


Houston Caldwell Scholarship Available for ResoSummit 2011
ResoSummit is pleased to announce the availability of a scholarship for a young person, age 18 or under, for ResoSummit 2011. This scholarship honors the memory of Houston Caldwell, whose short life was an inspiring testament to the transformative power of music and community service. The scholarship will cover registration fees, on-site housing and meals. To apply, contact ResoSummit using the contact info at left.


Rob Ickes Awarded United States Artists Fellowship
United States Artists, an organization dedicated to supporting America’s finest artists working across diverse disciplines, announced the selection of Rob Ickes as the 2010 United States Artists Cummings Fellow at a celebration at The Lincoln Center on Dec. 7.

The USA Fellows program awards a $50,000 grant to fifty artists each year in the disciplines of music, theater arts, visual arts, dance, literature, media, crafts/traditional arts, and architecture/ design. United States Artists was formed in 2005 with seed funding from The Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson and Prudential Foundations, with a mission “to invest in America’s finest artists and illuminate the value of artists to society.”

USA Fellowship nominations are made by an anonymous group of arts leaders, critics, scholars, and artists chosen by USA. An expert panel for each discipline then chooses the USA Fellows to be recommended for approval by the USA Board. Previous USA fellows from the field of music include Michael Doucet, Bill Frisell, Ali Akbar Kahn, Terry Allen, Lionel Loueke, violinist Leila Josefowicz, jazz musician Muhal Richard Abrams, and interdisciplinary artist Meredith Monk.

Katharine DeShaw, USA Executive Director, described the 2010 recipients as follows: "Chosen for the caliber and impact of their work, the USA Fellows for 2010 hail from 18 states and Puerto Rico, range in age from 32 to 71, and represent some of the most innovative and diverse creative talents in the country."

Ickes is the first artist with roots in bluegrass music to be named a USA Fellow. His work spans multiple genres, and Ickes plans to use his fellowship to continue to explore "the vast musical potential that the dobro has to offer," and to raise the visibility of the instrument.
2010 Fellows | Rob's USA Profile


Thanks for a great ResoSummit 2010!

ResoSummit 2010 was truly Total Dobro Overload. Or, as one participant wrote in the survey, "Best. ResoSummit. Ever." Check out the highlights here.

ResoSummit 2010


Review, Rob Ickes Contemporary Dobro Artistry, Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine
Feb. 2009

Rob Ickes: Contemporary Dobro Artistry (Mel Bay DVD+CD)At quick glance, you might think this is an instructional DVD, but it's not entirely. It's a jam with Andy Leftwich on mandolin for ten tunes and the remainder are with jazz pianist, Michael Alvey. The range of music encompasses traditional fiddle tunes to jazz standards. Ickes expands the reach of resonator guitar as no other exponent of that instrument has done so far. His harmonic development tied to his melodic explorations on classic jazz and well-worn country favorites displays his limitless vision for the instrument.

The DVD opens with Ickes and Leftwich jamming intensely on war horses such as "Angeline The Baker" and "Wheel Hoss" mixed with original tunes titled "Monrobro" and "Sanford and Son." They explore the nuances of each tune and the emotion inherent in each tune, and with "Blackberry Blossom," they are off to the races.

On "Jack's BBQ Blues," Michael Alvey comes in and Leftwich goes out. Alvey lays down a barrel house vamp on the piano, supporting Ickes' melodic machinations and adding his own touches to each performance. With Alvey's presence things take a more jazz-tinged turn and this blues helps segue toward more sophisticated melodic and harmonic explorations. Ickes has shown in the past he is quite capable in this setting as he explores the melodies, gaining a surprised depth of harmonic voicings tuned in open chord and using a bar to obtain his note choices. "September Song," "Lullaby Of Birdland," "Some Other Time," and "Stars Fell On Alabama" are all noteworthy.

The DVD closes with an interview with Ickes where he answers questions that have obviously been edited out, so we hear just his answers to the questions. He talks about his guitars and about his thoughts on the music. Accompanying the DVD is a CD containing all of the musical tracks on the DVD. This is a very nice package with lots of great music that will appeal to more than just resonator guitar fans and fans of Rob Ickes. It could well bring new fans to the fold. - RCB (Robert C. Buckingham)

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