Iron Horse
Gig Seeker Pro

Iron Horse

Killen, Alabama, United States | INDIE

Killen, Alabama, United States | INDIE
Band Country Bluegrass


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Band To Watch Column"




“Heavy metal and bluegrass go together like angry steelworkers and precious little cucumber finger sandwiches with the crusts cut off,” Westword wryly observed in reviewing Iron Horse’s ambitious high lonesome tribute to Metallica, Fade to Bluegrass. “This is Metallica we’re talking about, an ass-whuppin’ band that’s more apt to make you want to bomb Fallujah than contemplate a mountain stream or a sweetly rendered G-run,” the review continues, noting the seemingly irreconcilable incongruity between the two genres of music. It’s a dichotomy that’s not lost on the band.

“We felt the same way,” guitarist Vance Henry agrees, still wondering how a band steeped in the tradition of Flatt & Scruggs and a group that cut its teeth backing such staunch traditionalists as Jake Landers and Rual Yarbrough could end up covering tunes like “Unforgiven,” “Nothing Else Matters” and “Fade to Black.”

Indeed, one of the most surreal sights in bluegrass is watching Tony Robertson, Iron Horse’s mild-mannered and affable mandolinist, a man who has been playing bluegrass mandolin for 25 years (eleven of them with the legendary Jake Landers), furrow his brow, sprout imaginary devil horns and nihilistically growl, “Give me fuel, give me fire, give me that which I desire” as the band rips into a spirited rendition of “Fuel.”

“When CMH [Records] came to us and asked us to do the Metallica project, we were stunned,” bassist Ricky Rogers incredulously recalls. “We really didn’t know a thing about Metallica, but the more [we listened to them] the more we said, ‘this is do-able.’ Every form of music has a core and if you can get down to it, then you have the basis for another kind of music. So we just took [the music] out of their frame of mind and put it into a more bluegrass friendly state of mind.”

“We kept the instrumental and vocal signature phrases,” banjoist Anthony Richardson explains, “and built our arrangements around that. “We could hear mentally how drums would fit into our arrangement, but we didn’t want to take away from what we were trying to accomplish by using instruments that aren’t typically associated with bluegrass.”

Fade to Bluegrass heralded a significant departure from CMH’s celebrated “Pickin’ On” series of all-instrumental tribute albums. For one of the first times, a band was asked to provide a vocal interpretation as well. “We’ve had the opportunity to do things that have never been done before and it’s been fun,” Vance comments. “We weren’t trying to copy Metallica. We just do what we do and use their songs because we respect what they did as a band. We’ve had an overwhelmingly good response from both bluegrass and Metallica fans.”

Those positive responses (and impressive sales) prompted CMH to sign the band to a five record deal which will include projects paying homage to Led Zeppelin, Modest Mouse, Ozzy Osbourne (Black & Bluegrass, released in March, 2004) as well as their own immediately recognizable music. “We had to get over slitting our wrists when we finished [the Metallica tribute],” Vance humorously observes. “Ozzy’s music was a stretch, but his tunes weren’t as complicated as Metallica’s.”

Ironically, it was the band’s first CD, a self-produced (and traditionally flavored) effort, Riding Out the Storm, on their own B Sharp label, which first attracted the label’s attention. That album contained three tunes from the Jake Landers song bag, a cover of the Marshall Tucker Band’s rock anthem, “Fire On the Mountain,” some hard driving staples such as Flatt & Scruggs’ “Little Girl of Mine In Tennessee” and six originals composed by Tony and Ricky, including one of the band’s signature tracks, an island-flavored instrumental, “Mando Mambo.”

Iron Horse was formed in Muscle Shoals, Alabama in 2000. Tony, Ricky and Vance had played together for many years in the Jake Landers band—Anthony joined the group in December, 2002. The group’s own musical persona is solidly within the traditional camp, which is not surprising given the fact each of the band members has been playing that form of music for over twenty five years. The quartet writes a majority of its material, but fearlessly still has no qualms putting their patented Bill Monroe begatted spin on compositions from outside the genre.

“We’ve [been at bluegrass festivals] and have learned if we don’t tell the crowd that it’s a Metallica song, they love it,” Tony relates with a grin. But if we go on stage and say ‘this is a Metallica song,’ then they look at it a little differently.”

“Yeah, all of sudden, it’s dinner time!,” Anthony laughs.

More information on Iron Horse can be found at Groups wishing to appear in “Bands to Watch” should send their press kit, color photo and latest CD to Dave Higgs, 8114 Millview Drive, Brentwood, TN 37027.

- Bluegrass Now

"What The Critics Are Saying"

“It’s a truism that the best covers must shed some new light on their originals, a mission at which most fail miserably. Not so here, where Alabama bluegrass band Iron Horse’s irony-free (and drum-free) versions of “Unforgiven”, “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman” lay bare the sturdy songcraft lurking, often unheard, beneath Metallica’s amped-up sturm and drang.” “That said, “Fade to Bluegrass”…is a match made in hell – and that’s a compliment.”
The Boston Herald

- The Boston Herald

"Fade To Black"

“They’ve capably made bluegrass fade to black, and nothing else matters.”
The Daytona Beach News-Journal - The Daytona Beach News-Journal

"Metallica's Melodies"

“Alabama bluegrass quartet Iron Horse accomplishes this oddball stylistic leap thanks to its precision fingerpicking and high vocal harmonies as well as Metallica’s melodies – melodies that are revealed to be more timeless than non-metalheads might have thought possible.”
The DesMoines Register - The DesMoines Register

"David Haaerle, CMH Records President"

“At first look, you might think it’s a novelty or tongue-in-cheek thing, but when you hear the way the songs are performed, it sounds like they really could have come out of the Appalachians.”
David Haaerle, CMH Records President - CMH Records

"The Denver Post"

“The fan appreciation shows in the reverent treatment of the metal band’s dark, existential stories, which fits nicely with much of the bluegrass tradition’s fatalism. As bluegrass, it’s pretty good stuff.”
The Denver Post - The Denver Post

"High Octane Journey"

“This recording treats the listener to a high octane journey through classic Metallica songs.”
Bluegrass Americana - Bluegrass Americana

"Sheer Accuracy"

“…I grew to appreciate not only the musicianship of Iron Horse, but their sheer accuracy in capturing the Metallica tunes. It’s evident that they learned to play the songs in the original metal style, because as a musician myself, I know it’s difficult to play a cover song in a wholly different genre unless one can play the song in its original form. One must learn the rules before one can bend them without breaking them.”
RG Reviews - RG Reviews


Fade To Bluegrass (Metallica) CD-8401
Black & Bluegrass (Ozzy Osbourn) CD-8410
Whole Lotta Bluegrass (Led Zeppelin) CD-8847
Something You've Never Heard Before (Modest Mouse) CD-9444
Fade To Bluegrass Vol. 2 (Mettalica) CD-8950
Take Me Home (Guns & Roses) CD-9153
Life, Birth, Blue, Grass (Black Label Society) CD-9181
A Boy Named Blue (The Goo Goo Dolls) CD-9558
The Bluegrass Tribute to The Shins CD-9125
The Bluegrass Tribute to Classic Rock CD-1276
Ridin Out The Storm (Self Produced)
New Tracks (Self Produced)
Small Town Christmas (Self Produced all originals)
Horse & Pen (Self Produced all originals) 2011



Iron Horse was formed in 2000 in the famous hit recording capital of the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, Muscle Shoals, Alabama. The band consists of four members including Vance Henry, guitar, lead & tenor vocals; Anthony Richardson, banjo, baritone & bass vocals; Ricky Rogers, bassist, baritone & lead vocals; and Tony Robertson, mandolin, lead & tenor vocals. The bands roots go back to the late 1970’s, when Tony Robertson and Ricky Rogers were charter members of the popular local group, “The Next in Line”. Through the years and after involvement with several groups, the present band was born as a result of the participation of Tony Robertson, Vance Henry and Ricky Rogers in the Jake Landers Band. In January 2003, Anthony was asked to fill an opening for a banjo player and the present Iron Horse configuration evolved. Iron Horse creates much of its own music, with an innate ability for cross-genre arrangements. Iron Horse has three self-produced albums, containing previously un-released compositions, and Iron Horse-composed originals.
Iron Horse was approached in January 2003 by Los Angeles-based CMH Records to record a tribute album to the heavy metal band, Metallica, which was released in October 2003. Be sure to check on line for the Iron Horse CDs. Iron Horse has recorded twelve projects for CMH Records. Tributes to Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osbourn, Modest Mouse, The Shins, Guns & Roses, The Goo Goo Dolls, Hank Williams, Black label Society as well as others.

The skill and ability of Iron Horse to transpose metal to bluegrass while maintaining the identity of the originals is exceptional. The versatility of Iron Horse is demonstrated by the more traditional flavor of their first CD, “Ridin’ Out the Storm”. This versatility enables Iron Horse to perform such standards as “Rocky Top” and “Man of Constant Sorrow” with little effort, while entertaining “metal-heads” with the familiarity of the compositions of metal and pop icons – all on the same stage.