The dobro, or resonator guitar, has become an important part of the bluegrass arsenal since its original development in the 1920s. On the occurrence of ResoSummit’s 10 year anniversary, let’s take a look at the Summit and the instrument.
The leading educational event in the dobro world is ResoSummit, produced by Rob Ickes and the San Diego Bluegrass Society’s own Betty Wheeler. ResoSummit celebrated its 10th anniversary this year, teaching 116 students from around the world in an intensive program of 99 dobro workshops over a three-day period, conducted at Nashville’s Scarritt Bennett Center. ResoSummit 2016 included 14 faculty members, including the two leading luthiers, Tim Scheerhorn and Paul Beard, as well as students from England, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Italy, Switzerland, and Canada.
ResoSummit also features evening faculty concerts at the Station Inn, Nashville’s historic bluegrass venue. This year’s concerts featured Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley and Friends, the Jerry Douglas Band (with guest Maura O’Connell), and Billy Cardine with Mary Lucey and Rapidgrass.
Over its 10-year history, the faculty have been a veritable “who’s who” of the dobro, including: Rob Ickes (co-founder and co-producer of ResoSummit), Mike Auldridge, Jerry Douglas, Andy Hall, Stacy Phillips, Cindy Cashdollar, Randy Kohrs, Billy Cardine, Ivan Rosenberg, Orville Johnson, Michael Witcher, Greg Booth, Jimmy Heffernan, Dave Giegerich, Megan Lovell, Sally Van Meter, Tim Graves, and Roger Williams. Locals who have attended include Will Jaffe, Dwight Worden (a ResoSummit volunteer), Lenny Boles, and Trapper Wyatt. To read more about ResoSummit visit: http://www.resosummit.com
About the dobro:
The dobro, or resonator guitar, was invented in the late 1920s by two Slovakian immigrant brothers, the Dopyera Brothers—hence “Do-Bros” became “Dobro.”
The instrument was popularized by “Brother Oswald” Kirby in the 1940s and then really took off when Josh Graves of Flatt and Scruggs fame made it a key part of the bluegrass music sound, adding new techniques, especially the three-finger banjo roll from Earl Scruggs and signature bluesy elements borrowed from black musicians he had heard and admired. Mike Auldridge, a founding member of the Seldom Scene, carried the flame forward with innovative techniques that produced a very clean sound and exceptional tone, resulting in a contemporary sound with taste and tone that are still considered the gold standard.
Today, the resonator is featured in many bluegrass bands, with top players including Jerry Douglas (Alison Krauss and Union Station; Earls of Leicester; 10-time IBAMA Dobro Player of the Year) and Rob Ickes (Blue Highway founding member; Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley; 15-time IBMA Dobro Player of the Year). Other prominent players include Phil Leadbetter, Michael Witcher, Randy Kohrs, Andy Hall (Infamous Stringdusters), and many others.
Local players of renown include: Steve Toth (Old Town Road), Kim Weeks (Lighthouse), Will Jaffee (Mohavi soul) and Robin Henkel (Robin Henkel Band), along with a host of others.