A widely acknowledged master of the Dobro (resonator guitar), American instrumentalist Rob Ickes made a name for himself in bluegrass, country, and jazz in the 1990s both as a member of the band Blue Highway and as a solo artist. In addition to recording his own projects, Ickes became a sought-after collaborator, playing on Grammy-winning albums by Alison Krauss & the Cox Family and as part of the all-star ensemble responsible for The Great Dobro Sessions. In the 2000s, while staying busy as a sideman for numerous artists, he formed the jamgrass group Three Ring Circle, and founded the annual ResoSummit educational gathering in Nashville. In the 2010s, Ickes added yet another successful project to his résumé, teaming up with singer/guitarist Trey Hensley for a series of duo albums.
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. His family tried to interest him in playing the fiddle, but it didn't take. However, when he was 13, he heard the Dobro work of the Seldom Scene's Mike Auldridge and was certain that was the sort of music he wanted to make. He soon acquired a Dobro of his own and took to learning the ins and outs of the instrument. In 1992, he decided to try his luck in Nashville, Tennessee and moved to the Music City in search of a career.
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 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, he organized the first ResoSummit in 2007, 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 singer/guitarist Trey Hensley. The duo quickly established themselves, returning a year later with The Country Blues, followed in 2019 by World Full of Blues. ~ Mark Deming