Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Tyminski brings his new band to his old stomping grounds
En route to the Roanoke show, the band will play the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn.
The Dan Tyminski Band
A traveling man can have a lot of homes.
Ask Dan Tyminski -- raised in Vermont, lived in Ferrum, moved to Nashville, Tenn., a couple of years back.
"I rarely unpack my suitcase," he said.
He'll bring his suitcase, tenor voice, guitars and new bluegrass band to Jefferson Center on Friday. Prepare to hear cuts from his new album, scheduled for release in May, as well as favorites that include his version of "Man of Constant Sorrow." That song, with Tyminski's voice coming out of actor George Clooney's mouth, helped make hits of the Coen brothers' movie "O Brother Where Art Thou?" and its accompanying soundtrack.
That qualifies Tyminski's voice as world-famous, even if he's not. But he's been busy for years with his main gig, backing Alison Krauss and Union Station. These days, Krauss is on a worldwide jaunt with her latest musical partner, Robert Plant, of Led Zeppelin fame.
Seems like there's no better time for a sideman with a great voice of his own to get a band together, make a record and hit the road.
On the tour with Tyminski is sound tech Tim Austin, the man who brought Tyminski south. They were in the Lonesome River Band together. Both left -- Tyminski for Krauss' band, and Austin to become a producer and recording engineer. But they've continued to work together on and off, Tyminski said.
"But we're getting to travel the roads again for the first time in 15 years," he said.
Also onstage will be Krauss bassist Barry Bales, former Krauss and Mountain Heart mandolinist Adam Steffey, top-flight fiddle and banjo player Ron Stewart, and young fiddle/Dobro man Justin Moses.
"I'm spoiled rotten. What can I say?" he joked.
Tyminski said he's been waiting for years to work with this band.
"The chance to get to play with this combination of people is what means the most to me," he said. "We've been able to record together in the past. In rare situations, we're around each other where we all have our instruments out and we play a little bit. For years, we've kind of had the running joke of 'Just say when. Let's do something.'
"And all the stars seemed to line up this year to let us get to play together. So it's really a neat thing."
Winning new audiences
The bluegrass world is about as transient as jazz. Players go from one project to another, always looking for new people to work with and new ways to approach the music.
Surprisingly, Tyminski thinks he's only been in three bands in his life up till now. He joined Austin and the Lonesome River Band in the late 1980s, and joined Krauss in 1994. In between, there have been lots of guest appearances, studio sessions and at least one notable soundtrack contribution.
"O Brother" was released in 2000, with Clooney opening his mouth to reveal a killer bluegrass voice on "Man of Constant Sorrow." Of course, the voice was Tyminski's, and though he knew what was coming onscreen, it was oddly disturbing, he said.
"Very strange to see," he said. "Your own voice is so personal to you that when you're in a situation where you hear it coming out of someone else's body -- hard to put into words, but yeah, I just kind of sank into my seat and was blown away as it was happening."
The movie brought bluegrass, blues and old-time music to new audiences. Tyminski said it's hard to tell if the same will happen through Krauss and Plant's Grammy-winning "Raising Sand" compact disc and tour.
"I don't think anyone necessarily went about this with the expectation of trying to draw new people into another genre of music," he said of the Plant/Krauss collaboration. "I think it's a situation where Alison had an opportunity to do something with one of her rock 'n' roll heroes. Chances like that don't come often in life. ... Everyone in the band has enough irons in the fire that we were able to make it all work.
"So I think it's neat if it turns any heads, but I don't think that's the purpose of doing it."
Union Station plays between 60 and 70 dates per year, so there is plenty of time for Krauss and the rest of the band to do their own projects. Tyminski hit the studio with his new band. And he wants to keep it going for a while.
"I'm thrilled" with the results, he said. "I had a chance to go in with this configuration of guys. It's a solo record, but it's treated very much in a band way. It's the band that I'm traveling with ... that's the combination of players that we have on this record. It's an honest-to-goodness bunch of guys sitting around playing music together. It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time."
Now it's road time. By the time you're reading this, the band will have played three shows, including a Grand Ole Opry appearance.
"I know so many people there," he said of Roanoke and Ferrum. "The only downside is when you have to roll in and head out after a show. It's hard to spend any quality time with anyone. But yeah, I hope I get to say at least a quick hello to a lot of friends that I feel are still like family to me."
He has a few days between the Opry and Jefferson Center shows. But most of that off time will be spent in Vermont, he said.
"It's been a long time since I've seen my personal family," he said. "So I think a lot of that time coming up is going to be New England time for me. Got to cover all the bases."