Blue Highway is zeroing in on the 15th anniversary of their very first live performance, which ocurred on New Year’s Eve in 1994.
At that time, Tim Stafford had just left his position with Alison Krauss, as had Shawn Lane his gig with Ricky Skaggs. Rob Ickes was recently married and none of the original members of the band, which also included Jason Burleson and Wayne Taylor, were looking for a full time musical venture.
From a vantage point late in 2009, it’s hard to visualize Blue Highway as a group of weekend warriors. Their first album, It’s A Long, Long Road, was released in 1995, and won the IBMA Album of the Year Awrd in 1996. The band picked up the Emerging Artist trophy that year as well.
Now, 8 albums later, Blue Highway is a major player in bluegrass and Americana music, touring worldwide and winning acclaim from fans, critics and peers alike. Their next release on Rounder, Some Day: The Fifteenth Anniversary Collection, is due on January 19 of next year, and will include 13 tracks, 3 of which are new recordings.
The band will hold an official 15th Anniversary Show this Friday in Roanoke, VA and the Roanoke Times has an extensive article and podcast with Tim Stafford in today’s (12/15) edition. Tad Dickens of the Times asked Tim if he had anticipated this level of success when they launched the band in ’94.
“No. Naaaaw,” Stafford said when asked if he had expected any of this when he made the decision to leave Union Station. “That was really the farthest thing from my mind. It was really just a way to keep on playing bluegrass at as high a level as I could. … I was playing with some really, really high-quality players when I was with Union Station. It’s tough to go back. Nothing against part-time pickers, but it’s hard to go back and just play with anybody.
“So I was really lucky that I was able to hook up with these guys. I feel like they’re just right up there with those other guys.”
You can read the full interview online, and hear a 45 minute podcast with Stafford about the history of the group, which also includes a sneak peek at one of the new songs from the 15th Anniersary CD. More details about the concert on the 18th can be found at www.bluehighway15.com.