|Click image to download photos in high resolution jpeg format. Photo credit: Michael Witcher
Click here to download the Road Song One-Sheet (PDF)
Click here to download Rob Ickes' Bio+Awards (PDF)
A Northern California native, Rob Ickes moved to Nashville in 1992 and joined Blue Highway, the highly esteemed bluegrass band, as a founding member in 1994. He is recognized as one of the most innovative Dobro players on the scene today, contributing signature technique and greatly expanding the boundaries of the instrument's sonic and stylistic territory. He won the International Bluegrass Music Association's Dobro Player of the Year award for a record-setting thirteenth time in 2011; IBMA notes that he is the most awarded instrumentalist in the history of the IBMA awards. He was chosen as the USA Cummings Fellow in 2010, one of the $50,000 fellowships awarded by United States Artists each year to 50 of America’s finest artists across eight disciplines.
As an active session player and touring musician, he has collaborated with a wide range of musicians, including Merle Haggard, Earl Scruggs, Tony Rice, Charlie Haden, David Grisman, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, David Lee Roth, Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Peter Rowan, Claire Lynch, and Mary Chapin Carpenter.
The youngest dobro player on The Great Dobro Sessions (Jerry Douglas & Tut Taylor, producers), which won the 1994 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, he was also on the Alison Krauss & The Cox Family album, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow, which won the 1994 Grammy for Best Southern Gospel. His most recent release is a dobro-piano jazz album, Road Song (ResoRevolution 2009); he has also released four acclaimed solo albums on Rounder, nine albums with Blue Highway (Rounder, Ceili, Rebel) and a self-titled CD with Three Ring Circle, comprising Rob, Andy Leftwich and Dave Pomeroy (Earwave).
Rob is also a gifted resonator guitar teacher; in 2007, he founded ResoSummit, a three-day annual instructional event in Nashville, featuring leading Dobro players and luthiers as faculty, and 100 participants from around the world.
IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Awards:
Dobro Player of the Year (2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996)
Song of the Year 2008-Through the Window of a Train-Blue Highway)
Gospel Recording of the Year (2004-Wondrous Love-Blue Highway; 1997-God Moves in a Windstorm-Blue Highway)
Emerging Artist of the Year (1996-Blue Highway)
Album of the Year (1996-It's a Long, Long Road-Blue Highway; 2006, Celebration of Life: Musicians Against Childhood Cancer)
Dove Award (with Blue Highway)
Best Bluegrass Album (2004-Wondrous Love)
Grammy Nominations (for Rob’s work on Grammy-winning projects, see bio, above)
Best Bluegrass Album (2005-Marbletown)
Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album (2004-Wondrous Love)
For artist interviews, contact:
Road Song is distributed by: Burnside Distribution Corp.
Road Song Reviews+Press
“Rob Ickes’ new CD swings! It cooks! Ickes does for the dobro what Toots Thielemans did for the harmonica and Stephane Grappelli for the violin – he makes it a legitimate JAZZ instrument. Ickes wears his bluegrass and jazz hats equally well.”
– Mark Welch, Program Director, WKMS
The Dobro is a generally cantankerous instrument in the hands of all but a few masters. Rob Ickes has become one of those masters, and his new Road Song album is beautiful at every bend.
–Peter Cooper, The Tennessean
As Ickes's latest album, Road Song, amply demonstrates, in the right hands, the dobro is capable of producing an amazing array of textures and colors... Ickes is a true master of the instrument, and he manages to bend and sculpt such an eclectic range of sounds and textures from it that you begin to suspect he may be surreptitiously filtering his sonic output through some computerized enhancement gizmos. But it all comes down to plain, old dexterity and organic instrumental wizardry.
-The Jerusalem Post
“Blue Highway Dobro monster Rob Ickes is already legendary in bluegrass circles, having won the IBMA Dobro Player of the Year award an astounding ten times . . . Ickes’ rep has been built on his mind-boggling chops, spot-on intonation, and knack for both accompaniment and soloing.
"All of those attributes are in full swing on Road Song, but they are cast in a totally different light. On this, the first release on Ickes’ own label, ResoRevolution, he stretches way out with all new timbres that radically expand the range of his instrument. Carefully placed sitar-style buzzes, rhythmic rattles that almost sound like snares on a drum, and other sound effects make for a cinematic and engaging listen.
"The tunes themselves also represent something of a departure, with darker jazz colors replacing upbeat bluegrass sounds on several cuts, Michael Alvey’s piano providing a gorgeous backdrop for Ickes’ resonator tones, and vocals by Robinella adding evocative and dreamy textures.
"Ickes’ playing remains the focal point, and it’s unfailingly deep, expressive, and emotional throughout. [He] is doing for resonator guitars what Jake Shimabukuro does for the uke and what Bela Fleck does for the banjo: He elevates the state of the art in such a startlingly beautiful way that it’s almost impossible to view the instrument the same way ever again. Ickes . . . possesses the rare combination of knowing and honoring tradition while simultaneously obliterating all the boundaries imposed by that tradition. Bravo!”
– Matt Blackett, Guitar Player Magazine
"I've been listening to Rob's new album, Road Song, and hitting the ‘repeat’ button – I don't care if it's the only thing I listen to for the next year!"
– Tony Rice
"One cannot underestimate the ability of modern bluegrass musicians to explore new territory. If you have any doubt, check out Rob Ickes' new CD. Ickes is used to breaking new ground. If you grow up in the bluegrass hotbed of San Francisco to become the 10-time IBMA dobroist of the year, you know no boundaries. With this breakthrough CD of Dobro and piano duets of jazz standards, Ickes carries on the tradition.
"Ickes doesn't just dabble in the genre, he takes it head on. The Dobro's sustain resonates with piano jazz licks like they were made for each other. It sounds like a natural, yet to date only Ickes and pianist Michael Alvey had the vision to put the two together. . . Robinella sings several sultry cuts. Her rendition of Hank Williams's You Win Again all but had bar glasses clinking in the background. . . Here's to a new genre; Dobro and piano jazz. Nicely done.
– Country Standard Time
Review of Rob Ickes at WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour:
". . . For his set, dobro great Rob Ickes favored jazz explorations from his album Road Song over bluegrass. While a pair of Duke Ellington standards — Caravan and a country swing-fortified Take the "A" Train — were sublime duet vehicles for Ickes and pianist Michael Alvey, the 1964 Horace Silver classic Song for My Father let the dobro's inherent warmth mingle with the tune's infectious piano sway. Knoxville singer Robinella joined for Hank Williams' You Win Again, which downplayed country affection for aching blues, and the standard If I Had You. Robinella's phrasing again brought the great Billie Holiday to mind. But her tone was never imitative. She simply found her own spot within Ickes' wonderfully inventive string music and had a ball."
–Walter Tunis, Lexington Herald-Leader
"Dobro master Rob Ickes’ Road Song, issued on the ResoRevolution label, isn’t the first time that the most-awarded instrumentalist in IBMA history has served up a sliding take on jazz—but it’s his most intensely focused and most stripped-down effort to date. Paired with pianist Michael Alvey, Ickes eschews originals in favor of tunes from the Ellington, Silver and Montgomery songbooks with barely a nod in Nashville’s direction—except for a sultry reading of “You Win Again,” one of three tracks to feature singer Robinella. Ickes has chops aplenty, but he’s got even more taste. While many of the numbers can be called chestnuts, they serve not as vehicles for razzle-dazzle but as explorations of infinite shades of instrumental tone. They also remind you how songs earn that “chestnut” tag in the first place—great, memorable melodies and nifty rhythms."