BRISTOL, Tenn. — A pedal steel guitar occupied the stage of the Paramount. Nearby, keyboards awaited talented hands. A full-on kit of drums anchored a bass guitar, acoustic guitars, a banjo, a fiddle and a mandolin.
Bluegrass superstars Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent prepared to go onstage with a sound that encompassed far more than traditional bluegrass.
“A lot of fans love it,” said Vincent, by phone last week from his home in Nashville.
Encounter an evolving Dailey & Vincent on Jan. 3 at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, Tennessee. Hear a style that’s grown from strictly bluegrass to an unapologetically country-bluegrass blend.
“Some fans said they would never be back. That’s OK,” Vincent said. “We’re not going back to the five-piece band we’ve had. We’ve grown from that. There are other people who come to see us. We sell out the Paramount in Bristol every year.”
Hopeful attendees should buy their tickets as soon as possible. Longtime fans of Dailey & Vincent know they will witness an evening of vivid showmanship and crisp musicianship. The duo weave generous amounts of comedy and seriousness into their show, punctuated by sounds from traditional bluegrass numbers to hardcore country twang bangers.
“We’ve got so many fans. They are very faithful,” Vincent said. “We’ve got some fans who have seen us more than 100 times. It’s humbling. We have a blast. We have a general set list, but we really never know what we’re going to do onstage.”
Their frequent jokes and pokes at each other? Ad-libbed, Vincent said.
“There are all kinds of antics onstage,” he said.
Television audiences fell in love with Dailey & Vincent courtesy their television show on the RFD-TV cable network. That’s about to change — not the allegiance, only their network home.
“It’s been an amazing 2019 for us,” Vincent, who played for two decades with Ricky Skaggs’ band Kentucky Thunder, said. “Building for 2020, we’ve got a new country record for 2020. We’ve moving off the RFD network. We’re moving to the new Circle Network. Our new shows are coming in March.”
Details scant, Vincent allowed that their forthcoming album has yet to be recorded.
“We haven’t created it yet,” he said. “We’re going to do quartets, duets, love songs, story songs, a gospel song. We always record at least one gospel song on our albums. That’s in our DNA. It’s going to have a country flow.”
Faithful fans treasured Dailey & Vincent’s initial flirtation with country. The oft-awarded duo released “Dailey & Vincent Sing The Statler Brothers” nearly a decade ago on the Cracker Barrel Country Store label. It turned the red hot pair into meteoric music stars.
“It opened the doors for us to get into the corporate world with Cracker Barrel,” Vincent said. “The TV show with RFD came right after that. It took us into theater shows. Now a lot of people who aren’t into bluegrass are coming to see us.”
That album bridged Dailey & Vincent from bluegrass to country music. Dailey grew up singing country music. They each love its sound when embraced in authenticity.
Oh, and they’re certainly far from being the first bluegrass act to incorporate country.
“Alison Krauss did it,” Vincent said. “Vince Gill did it. Ricky Skaggs has done it. Even the Osborne Brothers did it back in the 1960s.”
Dial up the Osborne Brothers’ bluegrass standard “Rocky Top.” Traditional bluegrass? Well, not quite. The recording includes an electric pedal steel guitar break and drums.
“It’s OK to do that,” Vincent said. “It’s a beautiful thing.”