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Rob Ickes

Widely acknowledged as one of the masters of the Dobro or resonator guitar, Rob Ickes is an instrumentalist who has made a name for himself in bluegrass, country, and jazz. Born in San Francisco, California in 1967, Ickes was first exposed to bluegrass and old-timey music when he was a child, attending weekly jam sessions hosted by his grandparents. Ickes' family tried to interest him in playing the fiddle, but it didn't take. However, when he was 13, Ickes heard the Dobro work of the Seldom Scene's Mike Auldridge, and young Rob was certain that was the sort of music he wanted to make. The youngster soon acquired a Dobro of his own, and took to learning the ins and outs of the instrument. In 1992, Ickes decided to try his luck in Nashville, Tennessee, and moved to Music City in search of a career.

In 1994, Ickes became a founding member of Blue Highway, a group that would go on to become one of America's most celebrated bluegrass groups. That same year, he appeared on the Grammy-winning multi-artist album The Great Dobro Sessions; the album found Ickes performing alongside such legends as Jerry Douglas, Tut Taylor, Josh Graves, Bashful Brother Oswald (aka Pete Kirby), and Rob's hero, Mike Auldridge. Ickes also played on another Grammy winner in 1994, I Know Who Holds Tomorrow by Alison Krauss & the Cox Family, which earned the prize for best Southern Gospel Album. Despite his busy schedule with Blue Highway, who released their debut album in 1995, Ickes continued to pursue new projects. The International Bluegrass Music Association named Ickes best Dobro player of 1996, and he would go on to receive the same award a dozen more times. In 1997 Ickes released his first solo album, Hard Times, which ranged from bluegrass standards to a cover of the Meters' "Look-ka Py Py." More solo efforts followed, including Slide City in 1999, What It Is in 2002, and Big Time in 2004.

Ickes helped launch the jazz-leaning jamgrass group Three Ring Circle, which also featured Andy Leftwich on fiddle and bassist Dave Pomeroy. Their self-titled debut was released in 2006, and a follow-up, Brothership, appeared in 2010. In 2009 Ickes teamed up with piano man Michael Alvey and singer Robinella for another jazz-oriented release, Road Song. And Ickes served as an accompanist and session man for a wide range of artists, including Earl Scruggs, Merle Haggard, Kenny Rogers, David Grisman, and Don Henley. In support of other Dobro and resonator players, in 2007 Ickes organized the first ResoSummit, an annual three-day gathering of musicians, educators, and luthiers. In 2012, Ickes recorded a trio album with fellow Dobro masters Jerry Douglas and Mike Auldridge titled Three Bells. Auldridge died shortly after recording was completed, and the album didn't appear until 2014. Ickes left Blue Highway in 2015, the same year he released Before the Sun Goes Down, a collaboration with Trey Hensley. The two joined forces again for 2016's The Country Blues. ~ Mark Deming
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Rob Ickes

1. Machine Gun Kelly

2. Elzic's Farewell

3. Matt Hyland

4. Born in a Barn

5. The Fatal Shore

6. Wayfaring Stranger

7. Fidddler's Dream

8. I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes

9. Like Water

10. I Am a Pilgrim

11. Lonesome Moonlight Waltz

12. Lost Indian

13. Ireland, Love Of My Heart

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Track List: What It Is

1. Mr. Goodbar

2. Scheerhorn Shuffle

3. Self Portrait

4. Standford And Son

5. I'll Take Les

6. Killeen

7. Juke Joint

8. Blues For Sammy

9. When We Were Leaving

10. Union Pacific

11. 50 Years Ago

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Track List: Slide City

1. Dwight's Blues

2. Watermelon Man

3. Can't Find My Way Home

4. The Last Polar Bear

5. The Way We Was

6. California Blues

7. Central Park

8. Be Thou My Vision

9. New Blues

10. Don't Give It Up

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Track List: Hard Times

1. No More My Land

2. Down In The Hole

3. Tom Dooley

4. Flatt Lonesome

5. Reuben

6. A Song For Jennifer

7. Look-Ka Py Py

8. Hard Times

9. Ashland Breakdown

10. One Bad Case Of The Blues

11. How Great Thou Art

12. Uptown Blues

x

Track List: Road Song

1. Song For My Father

2. Caravan

3. You Win Again

4. Road Song

5. If I Had You

6. I Can't Make You Love Me

7. West Coast Blues

8. The Nearness Of You

9. Take The "A" Train

10. Hymn To Freedom

Comments

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Nice
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roadwarrior2
The best dobro playing I ever heard was Jerry Douglas in the late 80s when he toured with Peter Rowan, Mark O'Connor, and Roy Husky. Jerry's power and remarkable improvisatio n s still give me chills. Somewhere I've got a tape of a couple of those shows.. Nothing I've ever heard comes close. There's a cd with that group Crucial Country, many of the tunes accessible on Pandora (just look for Peter Rowan)....bu t the recording pales compared to the live shows.
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mike_mca
Bravo!
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Check out the Great Dobro Sessions, with Rob, Jerry, and Mike all on the same with more great players and guys that inspired them. Thanks, Jerry for putting that together.
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We just need more great dobro players like Rob, Jerry, and Mike and these comparisons could be put to rest. Nobody is as opinionated about guitar players or mandolin players. We just enjoy the variety and styling. those great subtle differences. Style is personality. I've always loved Jerry's music, and am really enjoying the dimension Rob's music adds to my dobro enjoyment. What a great soulful instrument.
Report as inappropriate
love it...love it ...absolutel y LOVE it!!
Report as inappropriate
I see no need to comment on "who's better...l." Rob and Jerry are both great, and a lot of fun to listen to!!
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douglmft
mad swag
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I have been listening to Jerry douglas since i was a kid,he played alot around where i grew up and have always loved his music as well as Mike Aldridge.bot h great but different styles.Well for straight Bluegrass Rob has Really caught my attention!!! H e seems to blend with the other instruments perfectly while if you have ever seen Jerry live with Alliason Krause when he plays its almost like a solo cause he just burns it up so much.Love em both!!!Long live Bluegrass!
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runfortheros e s
Just spent the weekend at Wintergrass and saw Rob Ickes with Blue Highway & 3 Ring Circle. Could listen to him play all night!! Sweet, spooky & just plain awesome!
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jameslehman3
I also am a dobro player and can tell you that after learning through both Jerry and Rob's instructiona l dvd's that Rob is hands down my favorite and to my ear technically better than douglas. They both are however beter than me and I am glad I have the oppurtunity to listen to them. Long live the dobro.
Report as inappropriate
wjrz111
Great stuff!
Report as inappropriate
As a dobro player and student of all these guys, I feel that Rob is more musical and technically better than Jerry. He has a lower profile. Jerry is great, but it's a "he was there first" phenomenon as much as it is talent. Rob is the favorite of many players because of his musicality, originality, unbelievable technique, and the always engaging nature of his work. He is a very personable and accessible guy and a very good teacher. I prefer listening to his stuff more than Jerry's. Not to
Report as inappropriate
Put him with brother Pat and his mother on the base and you can't beat em!!
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Rob Ickes is great. Jerry Douglas is great. Rob Ickes and Blue Highway are one of the top knotch multitalente d Bluegrass bands recording today.
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Who does Ickes play with or is he usually the frontman?
Report as inappropriate
That's so funny Dukejohn, I had it mind to say exactly the same thing when I logged in. Yep, Rob really is great, but until Jerry dies, he's always gonna be second Banana.
Man I bet he gets tired of hearing that!
Report as inappropriate
Rob Ickes (of Blue Highway) can only be beat on Dobro by Jerry Douglas. He's GREAT

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