Reading the respective musical resumes of Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley just may make your head spin; simply put, they’re the straight A students of old-school country and bluegrass. The latter, Ickes, is one of the world’s most decorated dobro players—he picked up the instrument at 13, and since then has won Bluegrass Dobro Player Of the year fifteen times. He spent over two decades with his band, Blue Highway, and has jammed with Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless and Alison Krauss. Hensley was no less a prodigy—by 11, Marty Stuart took a liking to the young singer and guitar player, and he found himself on stage at the Grand Ole Opry. For his part, he’s played with Johnny and June Carter Cash, Charlie Daniels, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner and the Oak Ridge Boys.
Given their respective pedigrees, it’s no surprise that when the two came together, they proved themselves a bluegrass force to be reckoned, earning a Grammy nod in 2015 for their debut record, Before The Sun Goes Down. The duo is set to follow up the success of their first release with The Country Blues, out July 8th on Compass Records.
Today, Elmore is premiering “Ballad Of A Well Known Gun,” the first track from the upcoming album. Hensley says of the perhaps unexpected choice for a cover, “This was a song that I’d loved for years off of Elton John’s Tumbleweed Connection, which is one of my all time favorite albums. The lyrics have some deep imagery and the groove is so cool! I feel like our version captures the original vibe, but adds our own spin to the song. We recorded this totally live (as we did all of the songs on the album) and I feel like the band connection made in the studio absolutely comes through. I’m really excited about this tune!” Hensley leads the charge with his rich country twang, but Ickes’ dobro is quick to return the call, chiming in with expressive, intricate solos. Female harmonies add a sweltering depth to the track, which carries a more percussive drive than Elton John’s original, jangling piano ballad.
Pre-order The Country Blues through Compass Records here, and give “Ballad Of A Well Known Gun” a spin. Don’t miss the boys on their summer tour– dates are listed below.
6/11 – Wellmont Reginal Center for the Performing Arts, Bluntville, TN
6/16 – Mountains of Music, Glade Springs, VA
6/19 – The Rooster’s Wife, Aberdeen, NC
7/07 – Boulevard Music, Culver City, CA
7/08 – Tompkins Front Porch, Lemoore, CA
7/09 – Sebastopol Comm. Center, Sebastopol, CA
7/10 – Split Rock Ranch, Ukiah, CA
7/14 – The Station Inn, Nashville, TN
7/15 – MusicFest ‘N Sugar Grove, Sugar Grove, NC
7/17 – Music on Main Street, Woodbridge, NJ
7/19 – Atwood’s Tavern, Cambridge, MA
7/20 – Opera House, Boothbay Harbor, ME
7/23 – Musicians Against Childhood Cancer, Lockbourne, OH
7/28 – Lafayette’s Music Room, Memphis, TN
7/29 – Stickyz, Little Rock, AR
7/30 – The Founder’s Room, Alma, AR
8/05 – Bluegrass Fest., La Roche sur Foron, FRA
8/13 – Waldhutte Stetten, Stetten, CHE
8/25+26 – Tonder Folk Festival, Tonder, DNK
8/27+28 – Dunmore East Bluegrass Festival, Waterford IRL
9/08 – The Station Inn, Nashville, TN
9/10 – The Soda Foundation Steelville, MO
9/17 – Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Bristol, TN