About Blue Highway
One of the most esteemed and influential groups in contemporary bluegrass, Blue Highway excels at every facet of the music, from instrumental dexterity to impeccable vocal interplay to literate, powerful songwriting. Individually, Jason Burleson (banjo, guitar, mandolin), Rob Ickes (Dobro), Shawn Lane (mandolin, fiddle, vocals), Tim Stafford (guitar, vocals), and Wayne Taylor (bass, vocals) are at the forefront of their respectiveBlue Highway roles, appearing on innumerable projects as sidemen, songwriters, and solo artists. Together, in Stafford’s words, they are “a democracy in the best sense of the word”: five gifted artists selflessly merging their talents into a seamlessly brilliant group sound. It’s a BAND in the best sense of the word. Five egos merged into one group ego, with everyone singing from the same songbook and tuned into the same frequency, can be a powerful force.
There are several truly great bluegrass bands on the circuit right now, but not one of them brings to the table the same combination of instrumental, vocal and songwriting chops possessed by Blue Highway. Each member plays his role to perfection, so the band moves from strength to strength, more mature and impressive with each new album. The Beatles had three gifted songwriters in their ranks; Blue Highway has five. Rob and Jason turn out the heart-pounding instrumentals, while Wayne, Tim and Shawn give Blue Highway a depth of songwriting talent unprecedented in sixty years of bluegrass bands. All three are intelligent and polished writers, and each writes with a distinctive, personal voice and style.
Blue Highway has released six acclaimed albums, received a Grammy nomination, topped the Bluegrass Unlimited radio charts, won a Dove Award and an astonishing 11 International Bluegrass Music Association awards, individually and collectively. Refusing to coast on past glories, Blue Highway continues to push their music to new levels of accomplishment. Boldly balanced between tradition and innovation, it remains one of the handful of bluegrass bands able to spread the popularity of bluegrass in the 21st Century. Blue Highway
Tim Stafford – Guitar player extraordinaire and band organizer, Tim was early on, a key player in the Grammy-winning team of Alison Krauss & Union Station. His rhythmic guitar style, song writing and arranging contributions are an integral part of the Blue Highway sound. FGM Records released his critically-acclaimed solo record, Endless Line, in 2004. For more, see www.tim-stafford.com/bio.htm.
Rob Ickes – Seven-time winner of the IBMA Dobro Performer of the Year, and unsurpassed among young Dobro players, Rob adds a brilliant touch to the sound of Blue Highway. He is quickly establishing himself as the ace session Dobroist in Nashville as the first decade of the 21st century progresses. His session credits are almost too numerous to mention. In addition to his steady job gigging with Blue Highway, he has played shows with Earl Scruggs, Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Ricky Skaggs and others. A consummate musician, Rob is dedicated to his craft. He’s also recorded four highly-praised solo albums for Rounder. For more, see www.robickes.com/bio.cfm.
Shawn Lane – One of the most affecting singers in the business, Shawn cut his musical teeth in the bands of Ricky Skaggs (who expressed a special regard for his tenor singing) and Doyle Lawson, and is a brilliant musician on mandolin, fiddle, and guitar. In addition, he’s a world-class songwriter. Shawn has written a large number of songs in the Blue Highway repertoire, and his compositions have also been recorded by Ricky Skaggs, Ronnie Bowman, Mountain Heart, Blue Ridge and others. Check out his great solo record, All for Today, released by Rebel in 2003.
Wayne Taylor – A gifted songwriter and rock-solid bassist, Wayne’s Southwest Virginia pedigree adds soul to his singing. Wayne’s songs are consistently among the most requested at the band’s live shows: numbers like “Keen Mountain Prison,” “Don’t Come Out of the Hole,” “Lonesome Pine,” “Riding the Danville Pike,” “Before the Cold Winds Blow,” and most recently, “Seven Sundays in a Row.” The 2001 SPBGMA bass performer of the year, Wayne is the first-string lead singer for Blue Highway and an integral part of its sound.
Jason Burleson – The original banjo player with Blue Highway, Jason is a native of Newland, North Carolina. A talented multi-instrumentalist, he brings all-around musicianship to the group, not the least of which is his distinctive, rock-solid banjo style. Jason also anchors the group’s quartets with his growling bass. A jazz devotee, Jason’s talent hasn’t been fully revealed yet to the bluegrass community and gives Blue Highway unlimited options for the future.