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 Brad Albin (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 | 22 comments
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 and fine about Music City in the 2000s, the reign of The Time Jumpers at the Station Inn would be a top contender. They are all exceptional musicians, brought together by the camaraderie that’s inextricable from being a professional picker here. They play country music incarnate at a time when few do, revitalizing canonical songs and adding new ones to the repertoire. They are also a sophisticated jazz ensemble that enthralls with masterly improvisation and a sonic luxuriousness that enriched the era of Duke Ellington and Bob Wills. Their skills may be exceeded only by the purity of their motivation. Every Time Jumper has plenty of work; nobody needed to show up and play every Monday night in a quaint neon-lit bar for not quite 200 people. They truly have pursued and refined this band over more than a decade for sheer musical fulfillment. And that unrestrained pleasure comes through on every track of this recording debut on Rounder Records. There isn’t space here to properly catalog every member’s credentials and contributions. A good place to start though is fiddler Kenny Sears and his wife, Dawn. Kenny is generally the onstage emcee for the group. He blends fluidly with Larry Franklin and Joe Spivey in the triple fiddle attack that distinguishes the band’s robust and rapturous sound. He and Dawn both sing, he with amiable swing and she with a special power and nuance that regularly draws chills, tears and rousing ovations. Then there’s the rhythm section, with rhythm in all caps and italics: drummer Billy Thomas locks in with Dennis Crouch, the hottest acoustic bass player in Music City, having toured with Robert Plant and other rock stars. Elegant strokes on a vintage Stromberg arch-top guitar emanate from a seated man in a cowboy hat at the back of the bandstand, except when he – “Ranger Doug” Green – steps forward to sing a lead, as he does here on his own “Ridin’ On The Rio.” And while Green is a Grammy-winning front-man in world-famous Riders in the Sky, his star power means little in this ensemble. That’s also clear in the understated addition of Vince Gill to the lineup in the past couple of years. Yes, the superstar is there for nearly every gig. Let there be no confusion; this is a band, and he’s in it. As are three more remarkable instrumentalists. Paul Franklin has been Nashville’s top session pedal steel player for 20 years, and he speaks of his Time Jumpers spot as an honor. Andy Reiss, a studio veteran who takes most lead guitar parts, feels like Nashville’s Wes Montgomery. My personal favorite “voice” in the group comes from Jeff Taylor’s accordion. Crystal clear and cutting, his reedy tone and liquid flow are simply spellbinding. His solo in “On The Outskirts of Town” is brief but immaculately constructed, as are his dancing responses to the vocals. But the same could be said about everyone here. When Reiss, Gill and Franklin begin trading fours, it’s the most liberated and enthralling sound in Music City. A live band with only the rare gig beyond their Monday night home base, The...
Posted by admin on Jul 23, 2012 in Bio | 18 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, McBride & The Ride. The band’s Top 10 singles included “Sacred Ground,” “Going Out Of My Mind,” “Just One Night” and “Love On The Loose, Heart On The Run.” Thomas’ songs have been recorded by McBride & The Ride, Gill, Dottie West, Little River Band, Ricochet, the Oak Ridge Boys and Andy Griggs, among...
Posted by admin on Jul 21, 2012 in Bio | 1 comment
The Time Jumpers welcome Brad Albin as their newest member! Originally from Illinois, upright and electric bassist Brad Albin has been playing professionally for twenty-seven years, the last seventeen of which have been in Nashville, Tennessee. As the newest member of the Grammy-nominated band The Time Jumpers, Albin also maintains a busy schedule as a performer on recording sessions, live performances and as a teacher. A few notable country artists that he has toured and/or recorded with include Mandy Barnett, Joe Nichols, Jim Lauderdale and the Sons Of The Pioneers. Albin is also very active performing in Nashville’s Musical Theatre community including productions for the Tennessee Repertory Theater, Nashville Children’s Theatre and Ryman Auditorium. He resides in East Nashville with his wife Jenny of Doyle & Debbie fame. He received his Bachelor of Music from Southern Illinois University in...
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 Grammys. His third Grammy came in 1999 for “Bob’s Breakdown” on theRide With Bob tribute album to Bob Wills. Since moving to Nashville in 1991, he has recorded with Kenny Chesney, Grace Potter, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Vince Gill, Lauren Alaina, Rodney Atkins, Joe Nichols, Lee Ann Womack, Easton Corbin, Brian Wilson, Reba McEntire, Shania Twain and Lady Antebellum, among dozens of others....
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 10 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, beloved for participating in countless charitable events throughout his career, including All For The Hall, the campaign to support the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. He was the Museum’s artist in residence in 2009. Gill has recorded with scores—possibly hundreds—of performers in all genres of music, among them Eric Clapton, Keb Mo, Barbra Streisand, Joe Bonamossa, Elvis Costello, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bill Gaither, Steve Martin, Rita Wilson, George Jones and Charlie Haden. Visit his official Site at...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 34 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 Skaggs Family Christmas Tour, and many appearances on the Grand Ole Opry backing numerous artists. He has recorded with Elvis Costello, Paul Simon, Harry Connick Jr., Keith and Kristyn Getty, Amy Grant, George Strait, The Chieftains, Martina McBride, Buddy Greene, Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs. He was a featured artist on the Ricky Skagg’s and Kentucky Thunder InstrumentalsCD that won a Grammy in 2007 for Best Bluegrass Album. Besides excelling on accordion and piano, he also shines on the concertina, penny whistle, mandolin and...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 26 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 Lounge with my band, and he was playing the showroom with Mel Tillis. I knew I had found my so-called ‘knight in shining armor’ from the first moment I saw him. We were married six months after we met.” She got her first break in Nashville when TV personality Ralph Emery asked her to sing on his morning show. That led to a contract with Warner Bros. Records in 1991 and the release of three well-received singles. In 1992, Vince Gill invited her to go on the road as a backup singer, a role she still occupies. For more information on Dawn Sears, visit...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 4 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 briefly with Monroe again in 1969 and then with Jimmy Martin. Green says he “rediscovered” Sons of the Pioneers in the mid-‘70s and was drawn to the group’s “sweeping poetic lyrics, great loping beat, complicated chord changes, beautiful soaring harmonies and yodeling.” He and Fred “Too Slim” LaBour formed Riders in the Sky in 1977. The group has won two Grammys and been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1982. Recognized as one of the foremost scholars of country music, Green is author of Singing In The Saddle, the definitive book on western music. Riders In The Sky also had a CBS TV show (“Riders In The Sky”) as well an NPR radio show (“Riders Radio Theater”) and sang “Woody’s Roundup” in Toy Story 2. Green has been with The Time Jumpers for 12 years. For more information on Ranger Doug Green visit...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 7 comments
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 John Anderson’s band in July of that year. He continues to tour with Anderson. As a studio musician, he has recorded with Anderson, Merle Haggard, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, Hank Williams Jr., Clay Walker and many others. His hobbies include studying music history and collecting cameras and Victrola...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 3 comments
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. “Talk about an education!” Reiss exclaims regarding that breakthrough experience. He has been a studio mainstay ever since and has played on hundreds of hit records, including two that went on to win Grammy awards: B. J. Thomas’ “Amazing Grace” and the Reba McEntire-Linda Davis No. 1 duet, “Does He Love You.” Reiss has recorded with many jazz greats as well, including Pete Christlieb, Beegee Adair, Benny Golson and as a member of the Lori Mechem...
Posted by admin on Jun 15, 2012 in Bio | 17 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. Sears recalls it as a great training ground in swing and country music. But he had another musical life as well. Since the fourth grade, he had been playing classical violin with the Austin College Symphony. This gig netted him a scholarship to North Texas State University and the chance to study music in depth. He subsequently played in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Sears moved to Nashville in 1975 and in the years that followed toured with Mel Tillis, Ray Price, Faron Young and Dottie West, among others, worked in Ralph Emery’s staff band and the Grand Ole Opry band and established the reputation he still holds as one of Nashville’s most revered session...
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