Blue Highway (1994 - )

Updated: February 24, 2011

Blue Highway is a bluegrass band from Kingsport, Tennessee. The band was founded in the mid-1990s.

Since its founding in the mid-1990s, Blue Highway has been one of the most important bluegrass bands in the United States. In 1994, guitarist and Kingsport, Tennessee, native Tim Stafford, a former member of Allison Krauss and Union Station, formed Blue Highway with banjoist Jason Burleson (from Newland, North Carolina), dobroist Rob Ickes (a San Francisco, California, native), mandolinist and fiddler Shawn Lane (from Norton, Virginia), and bassist Wayne Taylor (a resident of Abingdon, Virginia). After signing to Rebel Records in 1995, they released their first album, It’s a Long, Long Road, which spent six months at the top of Bluegrass Unlimited charts. In late 1998, after recording two more albums, Blue Highway left Rebel Records and signed with Ceilie Music. The band’s self-titled album “Blue Highway” (1999) was produced by renowned bluegrass artist Ricky Skaggs. In 1998 Burleson was temporary replaced by banjo player Tom Adams, who spent two years with Blue Highway before Burleson rejoined the band.

In 2000 Blue Highway began recording for Rounder Records and was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2004 for the gospel album Wondrous Love; the next year the Marbletown album received two additional Grammy nominations. Blue Highway has received many awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, including Emerging Artist of the Year in 1996, Album of the Year in 1996 for It’s a Long, Long Road, and Song of the Year in 2008 for “Through the Window of a Train.” Additionally, Rob Ickes is eleven-time Dobro Player of the Year winner at the IBMA Awards. Blue Highway has won many awards from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America, and in 2004 the band won Best Bluegrass Album at the Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards. Blue Highway continues to tour, playing the bluegrass festival circuit as well as other venues.

Traditional instrumentation combined with the innovative songwriting and arrangements of Stafford, Lane, and Taylor have made Blue Highway one of the leading bands in contemporary bluegrass. To add to their legacy as a bluegrass band, several songs off their first album-including “In the Gravel Yard,” “Blue Ridge Mountain Girl,” and “Lonesome Pine” – have entered the canon of bluegrass jam tunes.

Cite this Entry

MLA Style

"Blue Highway," Encyclopedia of Appalachia, 2018, Encyclopedia of Appalachia. 19 Oct 2018 <>

APA Style

"Blue Highway." (2018) In Encyclopedia of Appalachia, Retrieved October 19, 2018, from Encyclopedia of Appalachia: