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The legendary dobro player Ickes (cover of Guitar Player Magazine in August) comes down to the crossroads. Rob Ickes is a founding member of acclaimed Bluegrass group Blue Highway and also regularly performs with Three Ring Circle and his own jazz trio. In 2010, he was named Dobro Player of the Year for the 12th time by the International Bluegrass Music Association. IBMA notes that he is the most awarded instrumentalist in the history of their awards. He was also named the USA Peter Cummings Fellow in 2010 by United States Artists, an organization that annually honors 50 of America’s finest artists across eight disciplines with individual fellowships of $50,000.
In 2009, Ickes released his fifth solo album, a jazz project with pianist Michael Alvey and vocalist Robinella. Ickes also performs and records with a "jamgrass acoustic power trio", Three Ring Circle, with Andy Leftwich and Dave Pomeroy.
Ickes was the youngest dobro player on "The Great Dobro Sessions", produced by Jerry Douglas and Tut Taylor, which won the 1994 GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album. He was also on the Alison Krauss & The Cox Family album, "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow", which won the 1994 GRAMMY Award for Best Southern Gospel. He has collaborated with Merle Haggard, Earl Scruggs, Tony Rice, Charlie Haden, David Grisman, Alison Krauss, Willie Nelson, David Lee Roth, Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Peter Rowan, Claire Lynch, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. Notable collaborations include Merle Haggard's "The Bluegrass Sessions", 2009 GRAMMY nominated "Earl Scruggs with Family & Friends, The Ultimate Collection: Live at the Ryman"; and "Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs, The Three Pickers", which appeared on the Billboard Bluegrass Chart for 138 weeks.
Jim Hurst was influenced early in his career by flatpickers such as Tony Rice and George Shuffler, but Doc Watson and Clarence White especially. He also heard Merle Travis, Chet Atkins, and Jerry Reed, calling his discovery of their fingerstyle playing “a turn in the road” for him. His diverse tastes led him to play in several bands, playing country, bluegrass, blues, jazz and other styles. His career was already growing when Holly Dunn came calling and he has also performed with Sara Evans, Travis Tritt, and the McCarter Sisters.
In search of more bluegrass playing, Hurst joined Grammy nominated and IBMA Vocalist of the Year – Claire Lynch in 1995. A multiple-IBMA award winner, Jim Hurst is one of the most versatile acoustic guitar players on the contemporary bluegrass circuit. Hurst augments his flatpicking with hints of Merle Travis, and Jerry Reed, bending and sliding until his notes take on an almost vocal quality. On his own recordings, Hurst’s list of guests is long and impressive – Sam Bush, Mark Schatz, Scott Vestal, Michael Cleveland, Viktor Krauss – and that barely scratches the surface. Still, the most powerful moments simply involve Hurst alone with his guitar.
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