Tap any member of The Time Jumpers on the shoulder and the face that turns to greet you will be that of one who’s made major contributions to the richness and vigor of country music.
The Time Jumpers was established in Nashville in 1998 by an assemblage of high-dollar studio musicians who wanted to spend some spare time drinking beer and jamming with their sonically gifted buddies. The notion of building a rabidly devoted following was the last thing on their minds. But that’s what happened. Learning that Monday evenings were the slowest in the week for the Station Inn bluegrass club, the superpickers settled into that fabled venue at the start of each week and set up shop. Pretty soon Monday nights were sounding a lot like Saturday nights—and drawing commensurately lively crowds.
As word spread along Music Row that something special was happening at Station Inn, big stars began dropping by, some to sit in with the band, others just to enjoy the vast array of country, swing, jazz and pop standards The Time Jumpers rejoiced in playing. Among those drop-bys were Bonnie Raitt, Reba McEntire, Norah Jones, Robert Plant, The White Stripes, Kings Of Leon, Jimmy Buffet and Kelly Clarkson. None asked for their money back.
The current edition of The Time Jumpers includes 11 members, each a master of his (and, in one case, her) instrument. Alphabetically—which is the only diplomatic way to present such a phalanx of evenly matched talent—they are Dennis Crouch (upright bass), Larry Franklin (fiddle), Paul Franklin (steel guitar), Vince Gill (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars), “Ranger Doug” Green (vocals, acoustic rhythm guitar), Andy Reiss (electric guitar), Dawn Sears (vocals), Kenny Sears (vocals, fiddle), Joe Spivey (fiddle, vocals) Jeff Taylor (accordion, piano) and Billy Thomas (drums, vocals). (Individual bios available at www.thetimejumpers.com.)
To list the artists these pickers have recorded and toured with would be tantamount to posting all theBillboard country charts for the past 30 years. Suffice it to say that the list ranges from Ray Price to John Anderson to Carrie Underwood. And the stages these luminaries have graced extend from the Grand Ole Opry to Carnegie Hall. That there are three fiddles in the band is a tipoff that these guys have an overwhelming affection for western swing.
The Time Jumpers—the band’s new and first album for Rounder Records—is also the group’s first studio project. Their live album—Jumpin’ Time, released in 2007—earned them two Grammy nominations and a high-profile segment on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered.
The new Rounder album reveals a side of The Time Jumpers that’s largely gone unheralded—that is the members’ ability to write vivid new songs in the stylistic vein of the standards they love to perform, whether they’re breezy, euphoric dance tunes or mournful testimonies to the destructive power of love.
Let’s start with Larry Franklin’s fiddle fantasia, “Texoma Bound.” Talk about music made visible! You can almost see tiny figures skipping along the tips of ocean waves as the three fiddles race along at breakneck speed, sometimes in unison, sometimes veering away from formation like the Blue Angels in flight. Jeff Taylor’s accordion flourishes gives the fiddles a run for their money. Even Bob Wills would have been dazzled by this one.
Kenny Sears’ “Nothing But The Blues” turns a purely personal problem into a danceable moment as he bemoans a lover gone astray, a situation complicated by his best friend who’s giving her comfort. Depression never sounded so good. “Ranger Doug” Green—“the idol of American youth” in his customary role as front man for Riders In The Sky—channels the sounds and imagery of Sons Of The Pioneers in his “Ridin’ On The Rio,” the tale of a wandering cowboy and the senorita who waits for him back home.
In her classic country lament, “So Far Apart,” Dawn Sears looks back to sunnier times as she sings of a once-torrid relationship that’s cooled almost to the point of freezing. Can it be revived? That’s her plea.
Vince Gill, the 20-time Grammy winner and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, contributes five songs. “Faint Of Heart” is a smooth, smoky, jazz-inflected rumination on the theme that love tales real commitment and stamina. “The Woman Of My Dreams” ponders the irreplaceable loss of the ideal lover, a bleak mood further darkened by Paul Franklin’s mournful steel guitar.
Sadder still is “New Star Over Texas,” in which the singer sees in the night sky a sign of the loved one whom “only heaven” could have taken from him—and did. “Three Sides To Every Story” acknowledges the complex reasons a relationship goes, observing that in each situation there’s “your side, my side, and the truth.”
Gill turns flirtatious, however, in the bouncy “On The Outskirts Of Town,” inviting a lady of some experience to join him in the myriad delights of the Twilight roadhouse, where “they love to play the jukebox loud.” It’s quite an impressive sales pitch.
The three remaining songs are from outside the band. Mundo Earwood’s “Texas On A Saturday Night” features Kenny and Dawn singing alternating verses and paints such an irresistible picture of good times that you’d think it was commissioned by the Texas Chamber of Commerce.
Johnny Mercer and Robert Emmet Dolan’s “Yodel Blues” is a perfect showcase for the vocal gymnastics of Ranger Doug, Dawn, and Vince as they contrast the differences between the New York City and Texas ways of life. There’s no surprise as to which locale comes out on top.
Harlan Howard and Bill Hervey’s “Someone Had To Teach You” was recorded earlier by George Strait and Wade Hayes. Here Dawn gives the song a decidedly feminine twist in which it’s the man—not the woman—who has to be taught how to cry.
It’s a fitting way to wrap up this extraordinary album.
In the spring of 2012, The Time Jumpers departed their beloved ancestral home at the Station Inn to provide more seating for their fans at the substantially larger 3rd & Lindsley nightclub near downtown Nashville.
So if you’re in Music City on a Monday night, please swing by. You never know who else will be there. But you can always be sure the music will be spectacula
Posted by admin on Jul 23, 2012 in Bio | 17 comments
NEW ALBUM IN STORES
Suppose you’ve been granted just one night of your life in Nashville, and that you are wise enough to make the most of it. You’re looking for the most Nashville thing in Nashville – the cosmic opposite of Applebee’s and a movie – a life memory you couldn’t make anywhere else.
You probably see where this is going; you should see The Time Jumpers.
We often struggle to find the quintessence of a place and time, and Nashville has its enduring enigmas. But if you ask me what’s been most exciting...
Posted by admin on Jul 23, 2012 in Bio | 3 comments
Drummer Billy Thomas is the newest member of The Time Jumpers. He came to Nashville from Los Angeles in 1987 and immediately began working with Vince Gill. He has been a member of Gill’s touring band ever since and regularly sings and plays on Gill’s records. Besides his musical labors for Gill, Thomas has also recorded and/or toured with Patty Loveless, Emmylou Harris, Steve Wariner, Marty Stuart, Ricky Nelson, Don Williams, Earl Scruggs and Dolly Parton. During the early ‘90s, Thomas was a founding member of the MCA Records trio,...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 0 comments
Larry Franklin grew up on a farm in Whitewright, Texas and began playing the fiddle when he was seven years old under the guidance of his father, Louis Franklin. He eventually won virtually every fiddling contest in Texas, culminating with the World Championship title when he was only l6. After a three-year stint in the Army, he co-founded the Cooder Browne Band, which recorded on Willie Nelson’s Lone Star label and toured with Nelson. Franklin went on to perform with Asleep At The Wheel for seven years, during which time he won two...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 7 comments
Oklahoma-born Vince Gill has performed with The Time Jumpers for many years but only became an official member in 2010. A member of the Country Music Hall of Fame since 2007, Gill is widely recognized for his achingly beautiful tenor voice, award-winning songwriting skills and virtuoso guitar chops. Together, these talents have yielded him millions of album sales, 20 Grammys and 18 CMA Awards. In 2005, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Gill is also regarded as one of country music’s most generous humanitarians,...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 26 comments
Jeff Taylor grew up in Batavia, New York, and began playing accordion and keyboards in his dad’s band when he was 10. He studied classical piano at the Eastman School of Music and was leader of a small jazz/rock group when he was in the Air Force in Ohio. He has lived in Nashville since 1990. Taylor counts among his performing highlights his two years as bandleader at the Ryman auditorium for the musical production Always, Patsy Cline, hundreds of shows as bandleader at Opryland theme park and on the General Jackson showboat, The...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 19 comments
Dawn Sears won her first talent contest at the VFW hall in Grand Forks, North Dakota when she was 14 – right across the river from where she grew up – in East Grand Forks, MN. And she kept on winning after she moved to Minnesota to play the clubs. When she was 17—and with her parents’ cautious consent—she began touring with a band throughout the West and Midwest. “It wasn’t music that brought me to Nashville [in 1987],” she confesses, “ it was Kenny Sears. Kenny and I met in Las Vegas in 1986. I was playing in the Sahara...
Born in St. Louis and raised in Strawberry, Arkansas, Dennis Crouch moved to Nashville in 1996 and is now one of the town’s busiest bass players. Two years after his arrival in Nashville, he became a founding member of The Time Jumpers. Crouch has recorded or performed with such artists as Elton John, Gregg Allman, Diana Krall, Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, Steve Earle, Jerry Reed, Tim O’Brien and a host of others. He has also recorded with Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Johnny Cash (on American V), T-Bone Burnett, Randy Travis, Ralph...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 2 comments
Illinois native Green spent much of his youth in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1968. He learned to play rhythm guitar during the “folk scare” of the ‘60s. While still in college, he began playing bluegrass and even toured with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys between his junior and senior years. That experience encouraged him to consider a career in music. He moved to Nashville, enrolled at Vanderbilt University and earned his master’s degree while continuing to play music on the side. He worked...
A native of Shreveport, Louisiana, Joe Spivey has been playing fiddle since he was 16, influenced primarily by the great Chubby Wise and Tommy Jackson. After working at a gospel radio station (where he eventually rose to the rank of program director), he served from 1977 to 1982 as the music director for the revamped Louisiana Hayride. In 1984, he moved to Colorado Springs and formed Cimarron, a band that went on to win the state championship in the Marlboro Country Music Roundup competition. Spivey moved on to Nashville in 1986 and joined...
Guitarist Andy Reiss left his hometown of San Francisco and moved to Nashville in 1981 after having played in a variety of less-than-stellar rock, show and casino bands. One of his first contacts in Nashville was legendary producer and steel guitarist Pete Drake, who introduced and oriented Reiss to the inner workings of the local studio scene. Reiss first Nashville session was an album for the actor Slim Pickens, a session that also involved such A-Team pickers as Drake, Charlie McCoy, Bob Moore, Pete Wade, Pig Robbins and the Jordanaires....
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 3 comments
Kenny Sears was born in Denison, Texas and raised on a farm in Liberty, Oklahoma. He purchased his first fiddle when he was seven with money earned picking cotton and turned professional when he was 11 after he was invited to join the staff band of the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. This gave him the opportunity to work with Grand Ole Opry artists who routinely played the Jamboree. Another contact young Sears made there was Billy Gray, Hank Thompson’s former bandleader. When the Big D Jamboree closed down, Gray asked Sears to join his troupe....
Paul Franklin (no relation to Larry) moved from Detroit to Nashville in 1972 to play pedal steel guitar for Barbara Mandrell. Later in the ‘70s, he recorded and toured with Jerry Reed and Mel Tillis. In 1981, he decided to quit the road and focus strictly on session work in Nashville. Since then, he has recorded with such legendary artists as Sting, Mark Knopfler, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Shania Twain, Barbara Streisand and Megadeth. “They say Paul’s the best there is,” says Knopfler, “but he seems to get better all the...
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