HVBA has hosted THE best, and definitely the most friendly and intimate concerts I have ever attended. The latest “barn burner” that occurred this past April 29th was no exception. When it was announced that Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, and Mike Bubb would be performing at this year’s big concert my response was YES! During his introduction at the start of the show, Mike Foley said that these guys are “the best of the best”. Some people use adjectives like they are candy. Words like awesome, amazing, and remarkable, etc. have started to lose their significance and should to be saved for times that truly meet the criteria. After their first number it was obvious that his intro was right on the mark!
I had thought of these fellows as long time, high demand, top shelf session musicians each a huge success in their own right just based on the folks they had worked with over the years. What I didn’t anticipate was the cohesive sound of professional veterans that all row together. Sometimes egos can get in the way but that certainly wasn’t the case here. Each musician complimented and punctuated the other’s musical phrasing and you could tell by their expressions that they were having a good time. Most of the material that they performed wasn’t what you’d call your typical bluegrass, but each musical realm they took us to was extremely well done. Sharing the musical spotlight among musicians is something I find to be unique to the style of bluegrass.
Most bluegrass headliners are more than willing to show off the members of their group as individuals, and as a collective unit. This was very obvious that evening, (there are no “I’s” in team blah, blah). Rob Ickes holds the title as the most awarded musician in the IBMA’s history winning their Instrumentalist of the Year Award fifteen times! If that doesn’t make your resume stand out among others I don’t know what will. Trey Hensley made his Opry debut at eleven years of age-I don’t care where you’re from, that makes him a grown up child prodigy! Mike Bubb standing in the back with the upright bass is no slouch either. He’s been around the horn working w Del McCoury, Steve Earle, Tony Trischka, and many others. The relaxed lightning fast picking, vocals, and writing were a special treat for those in the audience. They performed material from a new album (I guess they still call it that) coming out in September. So keep an eye out for it. What was our take on this? Amazing, Awesome, Remarkable, Best of the Best……….. It doesn’t get any better than this!
Picking, singing, or writing, they’ve got it all.