The many souls who braved the cold to hear Blue Highway in concert Friday the 13th were rewarded with an evening of top-notch bluegrass. The band’s members, who have been playing together for seventeen years, were clearly at ease with each other and with their music, spreading solos, lead singing tasks, and writing credits evenly among the group. One of the many high moments was Wayne Taylor’s moving rendition of “Homeless Man” from the band’s latest album, Through the Window of a Train. The stark tale of a homeless Vietnam vet stirred everyone.
The dobro playing of Rob Ickes made clear why he has been voted Dobro Player of the Year award a record-setting thirteen times. Without any showboating gimmickry, he brought forth tonal shadings, imaginative chording, and dazzling technique that significantly expanded one’s awareness of the instrument’s capabilities. The other members: Shawn Lane, mandolin and fiddle; Jason Burleson, banjo and guitar; and Tim Stafford, guitar, also had their moments to shine, emphasizing the depth and variety of their repertoire. (Tim Stafford, by the way, did an uncanny job at one point of channeling the voice and personality of Ralph Stanley.)
The band clearly enjoyed playing for such an appreciative audience, and with luck, we will see them again. The HVBA thanks the patrons, sponsors and supporters whose generosity helped make the evening such a success.
Fred Robbins, Videographer
Joan Harrison’s photos are all available here.