Newgrass from the Crooked Road

Blue Highway

Through the Window of a Train (Rounder, 2008)

Contemporary bluegrass band Blue Highway recorded Through the Window of a Train (Rounder) in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. This was a wise move that led to a surge of creativity. Blue Highway uses the mesmerizing and bluesy dobro and virtuoso mandolin as essential elements of its music, together with the expressive vocals of several of its members. The group is composed of Jason Burleson on banjo, guitar, and mandolin; Rob Ickes on dobro and Weissenborn-style slide guitars; Shawn Lane on vocals, mandolin, fiddle, guitar; Tim Stafford on vocals and guitar; and Wayne Taylor on vocals, bass.

U.S. Route 23 in Virginia is known as a Heritage Route. The two-lane road takes you to the Ralph Stanley Museum (one of the legends of bluegrass music) and Bristol, where Jimmie Rodgers and the Carter Family recorded landmark sessions. Route 23, also known as the Crooked Road, goes through the old mining town of Big Stone Gap, which is where the members of Blue Highway met during the winter and spring of 2007 to work on their eighth album. “This area is home to me,” says bassist and vocalist Wayne Taylor.


These guys are such good writers,” Burleson observes. “They hardly ever write something like your standard three-chord bluegrass tunes.”

Stafford concurs, adding “It’s not your basic cabin songs.” 

Being together for that long and playing together for that long really helps when it comes time to make a record,” explains Taylor. Lane is quick to add, “We hear stuff at the same time.”

To be in a band with guys like this,” Ickes concludes, “has been a dream come true.”

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Author: Angel Romero

Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music and progressive music for many years. He founded the websites and Angel produced several specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for TelevisiĆ³n EspaƱola (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music and electronic music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World, Lektronic Soundscapes, and Mindchild Records. Angel is currently based in Durham, North Carolina.