Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley (Saturday)
Take a 15-time IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) Dobro Player of the Year and a Tennessee-born guitar prodigy who made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 11, and you have Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, a powerhouse acoustic duo that has electrified the acoustic music scene.
Known for their white-hot picking, stone country vocals with soul and world class live musicianship, Ickes and Hensley meld together blues, bluegrass, country, rock and other string band music of all kinds to form a signature blend of music that defies restrictions of genre. They are equally at home on stages of prestigious performing arts centers, theatres and the Grand Ole Opry as they are on Americana, jamgrass, bluegrass and jam band festivals.
Ickes grew up in a suburb of San Francisco and discovered the Dobro as a teenager when he borrowed a Mike Auldridge cassette from his brother. He later moved to Nashville to pursue session work, and eventually graced the recordings of some of the best in the business before co-founding Blue Highway, and earning an unprecedented number of IBMA Dobro Player of the Year accolades.
Hensley grew up in East Tennessee and started singing in a gospel group when he was 6 years old. A few years later, his parents took him to a bluegrass festival where the lineup included back-to-back sets by bluegrass legends Charlie Waller and Jimmy Martin. Hensley decided then and there that he wanted to play guitar. By the time he was 11, he had given the life-changing first performance on the Grand Ole Opry playing guitar with Earl Scruggs and Marty Stuart.
When Scruggs played Knoxville not long after the Opry appearance, he invited the young Hensley to sit in. Ickes, who was playing Dobro in Scruggs’ band at the time, remembers Hensley as “a very talented kid,” but it would be roughly a decade before they crossed paths again. When they did, Ickes was blown away.
“I couldn’t believe the guy!” Ickes says. “I was just so excited about his music that I called everyone I knew in Nashville and told them about him. Then I suggested that we start playing at (Nashville’s) Station Inn and treat it like a showcase for Trey, just to see what might happen. I used to tease him and say, ‘I’ll have you famous by Christmas.’ Then, just one year later, our first record was nominated for a GRAMMY.”
Going forward the goal is simply to reach more people and illustrate what the unique talents and down to earth, honest approach of Ickes and Hensley can bring to roots music. “We want to keep doing the music that we love, no matter what the genre, and finding the audience that gets what we’re mixing together” says Ickes. Hensley adds, “I love what we’re doing, so it’s just continuing on with that, to more and more people.”