Open Road originated in Ft. Collins, Colorado in the late 1990’s, when lead tenor and guitarist, Bradford Lee Folk joined up with Caleb Roberts, a mandolin player. Folk had been working as a ranch hand and Roberts was employed as an electrical engineer. Bradford had grown up listening to bluegrass in his native Missouri. With his engaging grin, a high-lonesome hillbilly twang and a solid rhythmic guitar style, Brad wins over any audience in minutes. Caleb, who now makes his home in Lyons, Colorado is originally from Columbia, South Carolina. He has developed his bluegrass Mandolin style over many years. According to, Vintage Guitar, “He is recognized for "a classic style that favors tremoloed double-stops over fast runs and deep feeling rather than flash."
Folk and Roberts recruited bass player Ben O'Connor, fiddler Jean Ballhorn, and banjoist Mark Leslie (later replaced by Jim Runnels) to create the Open Road sound. The band derives its name from a style of Stetson hat popular with bluegrass players.
The band's first CD was produced by Sally Van Meter in 2000. It included old bluegrass covers and several original tracks written by Bradford.
Rounder Records released a new CD, Cold Wind, in 2002. By that time, Robert Britt had replaced Ballhorn on fiddle and Eric Thorin had taken O'Connor’s place on bass.
Eric, who also contributes vocals to the group’s performances, is a native Coloradoan. He played piano and trombone as a youth and later studied bass at the University of Northern Colorado. He now lives in Lyons, Colorado.
The band received major recognition when they were nominated in 2001and 2002 as "Emerging Artist of the Year" by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
Fiddle player, Bobby Britt, joined Open Road, when he moved to Colorado from Chapel Hill, NC, in June 2002, right after being graduated from high school. His unique musical talent contributes a vibrant dimension to the Open Road sound.
Keith Reed, added further depth to the Open Road sound with his banjo, when he joined the band in 2003. Originally from Idaho, he grew up playing bluegrass banjo and guitar with a group of local traditional-style players. His technical ability, bluegrass fundamentals, and compositional creativity blends both the traditional sound of Open Road and his own distinctive mountain music. Keith currently resides in Colorado Springs.
The group has played a varied venue of bars, coffee houses, churches, music halls and music festivals. The band achieved major stature, when they performed at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
Open Road's tour schedule is available on their website at: http://www.openroadbluegrass.com