Oh Brother Dan Tyminski Where Art Thou?

        banjobilly tells me Dan Tyminski has taken his show on the road and it is a good’un.

        I’ll bet it is.  With the core being Dan,  mando wizard Adam Steffey, Barry Bales on the bass, and flanked by multi-instrumentalists Ron Stewart (banjo and fiddle) and Justin Moses (fiddle, banjo, dobro, and everything else under the sun) I don’t see how he can go wrong.

        Dan is one bluegrasser I don’t personally know, and it seems the rascal is always one step ahead of me.  I first ran into him in the old Pizza Hut Showdown where we got bounced in the competition by young band out of Virgina called the Lonesome River Band.   The banjo player was a guy named Sammy Shelor, who still fronts the band today.  Tim Austin was on the guitar, and Dan Tyminski was the mandolin player.  I knew I’d better keep my day job.  Boy was he good even then.

        Years went by we decided to cut a record.  I called the premier bluegrass studio at the time, Doobie Shea Records, and asked if I could send a tape demo to see if they’d take on the project.  Low and behold, the owner was none other than Tim Austin.  Even though they had ousted us in the Showdown they knew we could play and took us on without an audition.  As luck would have it, our producer was to be none other than Dan Tyminski.

        Well, we all loaded up in the converted Neuse River school/tour bus and went all the to Virgina to do the record.

       When we got there, Tim let us know the good/bad news.  We still had the studio time booked, but Dan had just hit the road with a young lady named Alison Krauss.  Well, we all knew what it meant to him, so we were O.K. with that.  Besides Tim had a great ear, and with his help the record as done in two days.  For what is was it was a nice little project, sold well, and ended up being quite popular in the area.

         I hadn’t thought about Tim Austin in years, but banjobilly said he was doing the sound for Dan on the road these days.  That’s good- bluegrass folks tend to look after old friends, and I don’t see how Dan Tyminski could get a a sound man with a better ear for bluegrass than Tim Austin.   

        It is funny how it works in life and music.  I have never met Dan, but he keeps helping us.  After he got the gig with Alison, he got involved in this thing called “Oh, Brother,” and what started as a cult phenomenon became an international hit.  Like Reganomics, there is always a trickle down effect, and little bands like Neuse River also saw some benefit. 

        We played a State S.B.I. convention about that time and opened with “Man of Constant Sorrow.”  In reality, we had been doing the Stanley Brothers version for years, but suddenly everyone was requesting it.  It’s like Dan says, you don’t get many hits in this music, so when you do, you have to play ’em.  (Which is why most of us have Rocky Top, F.M.B., Dueling Banjos, and The Beverly Hillbillies in our repertoire.)

      At any rate, we were playing this S.B.I. gig and they wanted us to open with the tune, and of course we were more than willing to accommodate.  Right off the bat the Moose broke into “I am a man… of constant sorrow… I’ve seen trouble all my days.”

        Somehow the audience got confused and thought we were the Soggy Bottom Boys, and that the Moose was Dan Tyminski.  Afterwards all these official looking guys with guns and badges were asking for autographs, which the Moose was most happy to oblige.

        “Dang it, Moose, this is the S.B.I., you’re gonna get us in trouble,”  I protested.

        “NTW, Doc.  You worry too much.”

         I fretted about it at first, but years later I still get a chuckle when I think of some S.B.I. guy proudly giving his daughter that autographed glossy the next day only to have his daughter cry and say, “Dad, that ain’t Dan Tyminski. Who is Moose Dooley?”

        Oh well, Dan.  I hope you don’t mind.  As you know, bluegrass is two steps forward and one step back.  Even though I don’t know ya, I hope we’ve helped your cause in some way throughout the years.  I hear you have a great band, and we look forward to seeing you guys in 2008.  Maybe one of these days, I’ll actually catch up with you and shake and howdy.

        In the meantime, if folks get confused and think you are George Clooney, and Moose is Dan Tyminski, I reckon it’s just show biz, and all of us in bluegrass are better off for it.

       Oh Brother Dan- wherever you might be these days- we’ll check out your web site and catch up with you on the bluegrass road.  And sorry for the autographs.  It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.  (It was the Moose’s idea, by the way.)

Dr. B 

          

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6 Comments on “Oh Brother Dan Tyminski Where Art Thou?”

  1. Ted Lehmann Says:

    One forum writer said that he had missed the Bluegrass Album Band first time around, but now he would be able to say “I saw the Dan Band when they were on their first tour.” Every report I’ve read says they’re one of the greats, playing straight ahead bluegrass the way it ought to be played. We’ll be seeing them at Merlefest, where they’re closing the festival on Sunday afternoon, as well as at the Jenny Brook Family Festival in Vermont. I guess the real question is whether this will remain a touring band after Alison Krause comes off the road with Robert Plant, or will she continue to be such a great cross-over artist that bluegrassers like Tyminski will give up the big money to stay true to their roots. – Ted

  2. rtombibey Says:

    Ted,

    I guess I am the hopeless eternal optimist, but I keep thinking everyone in the country is gonna fall in love with our music if they just have a chance to hear it.

    Of course, I have now thought that with each wave of public interest. (Beverly Hillbillies, Andy Griffith and the Darlings, FMB in Bonnie and Clyde, Deliverance and Dueling Banjos, Oh Brother and Man of Constant Sorrow etc.)

    I have no way of knowing, but I’ve heard Oh Brother pretty well freed Dan to be what he wants to be. I’m glad, ’cause he was in the trenches for years, and deserves it, but I reckon now he’ll never get to mix a Neuse River CD on the weekend!

    Dr. B

  3. pandemonic Says:

    You mean, THE Alison Krauss?

    I’m now in awe.

  4. drtombibey Says:

    Ms. Pande,

    Yep, Dan has been her right hand man in the band since around the mid 1990s. Great on mandolin and guitar; very strong singer.

    I think Alison is taking part of the year off the road to explore other genres and spend some time at home, so some of the boys in the band are on the road. I am sure they are doing a fine job.

    When Alison hired Dan Tyminski, I don’t think she auditioned Captain Kangaroo. (or Dr. Kiley.)

    Dr. B

  5. Tyler Says:

    Hey, guys, it’s Tyler from Rounder Records. May is officially Bluegrass Month, and we’re celebrating by putting all of our bluegrass releases on sale! We also have a $100 give-away! So head on over to http://www.rounder.com to enter to win and find new titles by Dan Tyminski, The Grascals, Blue Highway, and Dailey & Vincent, all on sale now!

  6. drtombibey Says:

    Tyler,

    Hey Tyler thanks for visiting.

    To all my readers, Rounder Records is at the top of the bluegrass audio heap. All the artists Tyler references are excellent.

    They still represent Alison Krauss, too, and I reckon she is bluegrass star huh?

    Dr. B


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