The Blue Highway Story

In 2024, the highly-esteemed bluegrass band Blue Highway celebrates 30 years of touring, with four of the original members still intact. Its single “Lonesome State of Mind” was named the MOST-PLAYED SONG IN BLUEGRASS MUSIC of 2023 by Bluegrass Today.

The band has earned a collective 32 IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, plus three Grammy nominations.  Most recently, the band was nominated for IBMA's 2023, 2022, 2021 and 2020 Vocal Group of the Year and Song of the Year Awards.

Blue Highway's #1 album Original Traditional  was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album.

Blue Highway was voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Time by the readers of Bluegrass Today in April 2016.

Tim Stafford received honors as 2001 and 2015 SPBGMA Guitar Player of the Year and 2014, 2017 and 2023 IBMA Songwriter of the Year.  He co-wrote the 2008 IBMA song of the year--recorded by the band--"Through the Window of a Train."

Wayne Taylor was inducted into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame in October 2016.   Shawn Lane was nominated as 2016 IBMA Songwriter of the Year.

The group came together in 1994 as Alison Krauss & Union Station alumnus Tim Stafford decided to inquire about forming a "weekend band" with Wayne Taylor, a Southwest Virginia coal truck driver and musician.  The two got together with a few other musicians to play and have fun.  Sometime that summer mandolinist/fiddler/vocalist Shawn Lane, who had most recently performed with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, called Tim to see what he was doing.  Tim called Rob Ickes, who had tagged along on a few tours with AKUS while Tim was in the group and was then finishing up a run with Lynn Morris.  Stafford, Taylor, Lane and Ickes picked informally with different banjoists, including Jason Burleson, who had sat in with a group Tim previously played in, Dusty Miller.  Burleson joined the group, which signed with Rebel Records and played its first show Dec. 31, 1994 in Kingsport, TN at the First Night Celebration.

The band's first record, "It's a Long, Long Road" on Rebel was named IBMA's Album of the Year in 1996, and the group was named Emerging Artist of the Year. By that time, the group had recorded another record, "Wind to the West," and was touring steadily as a full-time outfit!  The band went on to record with Ceili Records and signed with Rounder in 2001, eventually recording 9 albums and one compilation over 20 years with the Massachusetts label.  In the same period, Blue Highway signed with Keith Case and Associates in Nashville and remain affiliated with former Case agent Lee Olsen's CMC Artists.  Along the way, producers Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Alan O'Bryant and Scott Rouse helped guide the band, but the group has self-produced its last five all-original Rounder albums.

In 2024, the band signed with the new label Down the Road, created by legendary “Rounder founders” Ken Irwin, Bill Nowlin and Marian Leighton and released Lonesome State of Mind.

The hallmark of the band over its span has been and remains consistency and originality.  Four of the original members remain from 1994 (Burleson left the band briefly in 1999 but returned in 2001), while dobroist Rob Ickes departed in 2015 and was replaced by Gaven Largent (2015-18), Justin Moses (2018) and finally Gary Hultman (2019-present).  The band is fiercely dedicated to original material, having recorded nearly 125 original songs since its inception.

Blue Highway has been praised by peers, fans, and media alike, with one of the most powerful descriptions of the Bluegrass super group being shared by Country Standard Time

“Wayne Taylor sings with the emotion of a man who escaped the coal mines and ain't planning on going back. Tim Stafford continues to craft songs with depth .. The instrumentation is perfect. From the get go, Jason Burleson opens with the unique style that defines Blue Highway banjo..  Shawn Lane exemplifies modern mandolin, yet nods to the Monroe legacy. Three lead singers.. rich harmony .. songs of forgotten homeless veterans, fallen heroes, and heartbroken families. Blue Highway personifies modern acoustic music with respect for tradition. Highly recommended, highly respected." 

As momentum continues to build for the 30-year strong powerhouse band, Blue Highway is rolling on with a rich legacy, carried on by three powerhouse songwriters and vocalists in Tim Stafford, Wayne Taylor, and Shawn Lane, whose harmonies soar over the dynamic banjo of Jason Burleson and the tasteful dobro of Gary Hultman.



* Vocal Group of the Year- 2012
* Song of the Year - 2008, Through the Window of a Train
* Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year - 2004, Wondrous Love; 1997 - God Moves in a Windstorm
* Emerging Artist of the Year - 1996
* Album of the Year - 1996 - It's a Long, Long Road;  2006 - Celebration of Life: Musicians Against Childhood Cancer (collaboration); 2007 - Fork in the Road, The Infamous Stringdusters (Tim Stafford - producer) 

* Instrumental Recording of the Year -  2001 - Knee Deep in Bluegrass, The Acutab Sessions (Tim Stafford - producer, guitar; Rob Ickes - Dobro)
* Dobro Player of the Year  - Rob Ickes - 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996.   Justin Moses - 2018.

* Songwriter of the Year - Tim Stafford - 2023, 2017, 2014
Graphic Design for a Recorded Project - Blue Highway - Midnight Storm - Rebel Records - Craig Hansen - 1998
* ( Recorded Event of the Year - Special Consensus with Rob Ickes & Claire Lynch - Wild Montana Skies - 2014 )
* ( Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year - Rob Ickes, Jerry Douglas & Mike Auldridge - Three Bells - 2015 )

* Bluegrass Gospel Recording of the Year - 2004, Wondrous Love

* Best Bluegrass Album - 2017 - Original Traditional
* Best Bluegrass Album - 2005 - Marbletown
* Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album - 2004 - Wondrous Love

* Gospel Group of the Year (Overall) - 2005
* Instrumental Group of the Year - 2003
* Dobro Performer of the Year - Rob Ickes, 2003
* Bass Performer of the Year - Wayne Taylor, 2001
* Guitar Performer of the Year - Tim Stafford, 2015, 2001

* Tim Stafford - Best Bluegrass Album - 1993 - Every Time You Say Goodbye - with Alison Krauss & Union Station
* Rob Ickes - Best Bluegrass Album - 1995 - The Great Dobro Sessions - Collaborative album with Jerry Douglas, Tut Taylor, etc.

Rob Ickes - Named 2010 United States Artists Cummings Fellow in ceremony at New York's Lincoln Center. Ickes is the first Bluegrass artist to be named a USA Fellow.

Blue Highway voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Time by the readers of Bluegrass Today.  April 2016.



Wayne Taylor was the 2016 Inductee into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside legends like Patsy Cline, the Statler Brothers, Jimmy Dean, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Roy Clark.



Blue Highway Members

Blue Highway Member Bios: