The most eagerly-anticipated bluegrass debut in recent memory, Dailey & Vincent introduces a powerful new ensemble steeped in bluegrass and country music traditions, but blessed with the drive, talent, and charisma to assert those timeless values proudly onto today's stage. Even before one note of their stunning debut record had been heard, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent earned a standing ovation at the 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association convention and were booked for more than 100 shows. Now that the album is here, the advance accolades are completely understandable. This is music that can stand side by side with any of the most revered bluegrass discs ever made.
Co-leaders Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have already had a profound impact on much of the best modern bluegrass via their contributions to such estimable performers as Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, and Rhonda Vincent & The Rage. The decision to join forces was not taken lightly, as they both held comfortable positions within premier bluegrass bands – Dailey as lead and tenor singer for nine years with Lawson, Vincent as harmony vocalist and multi-instrumentalist with Skaggs. "But when I first heard Jamie sing," Darrin Vincent recalls, "it absolutely brought me out of my seat. I said, 'That is somebody I need to know.'"
Vincent's initial instincts were confirmed the instant that he and Dailey sang together. "When I first heard our voices blend, I said, 'There's something special about that,'" Vincent continues. "It was like, 'OK, we've got to pursue this.' Then I looked around, and Sonny stopped playing in The Osborne Brothers. Jim [McReynolds] from Jim & Jesse passed away. All of a sudden, there weren't any duos in bluegrass anymore. I thought, 'This is going to be a lost thing if we don't form a duo.' It just made sense."
Dailey agrees, adding that when he met Darrin six years ago, he knew immediately that he wanted to take his next professional steps with him. In 2003, the two began talking seriously about becoming a team.
"I was happy – I had no complaints," says Jamie of his nine years in Quicksilver. "But I knew probably after being with Doyle three years that eventually I would want to step away, in order for me to fulfill what was in my heart and to get to do everything I wanted to do musically."
"We've been praying about this for about four years," Darrin comments, "because we were making sure that it's the right choice. He (Jamie) was making really good money and doing great with Doyle. I've been having a ball with Ricky. With all the awards that we've won and all the wonderful opportunities that have come along with Ricky, it really didn't make sense to quit." But in 2004, Darrin and Jamie recorded "Beautiful Star of Bethlehem" as a duet for a bluegrass Christmas compilation album. The response was explosive.
"When we got the response we did off of 'Beautiful Star,' it was overwhelming," recalls Jamie. "It just blew my mind. That's what brought forward the idea that we needed to do our own thing."
"Their own thing" positively bursts from the speakers from the first notes of their self-titled Rounder debut, Dailey & Vincent, released in January of 2008. The working-man's laments "Sweet Carrie" and "Poor Boy Workin' Blues" are vintage-sounding, rapid-fire bluegrass romps. Jamie's tenor lead vocals on "I Believe" and "Take Me Back and Leave Me There" are high, lonesome bluegrass singing at its purest. Darrin's upbeat lead vocals on "Don't You Call My Name," "Cumberland River," and "Music of the Mountains" sound steeped in tradition.
The harmonies in "River of Time" and "Place on Calvary" will send shivers up the spine of anyone who loves the classic overtones that only great bluegrass voices can produce. "More than a Name on a Wall" sounds vintage because it is – the song was a 1989 country hit for The Statler Brothers. And as if to remind us that we are in the presence of classic talents, "My Savior Walks with Me Today" and the extraordinary performance of Gillian Welch and David Rawling's "By the Mark" are performed in traditional, mandolin-guitar, brother-duet fashion.
Indeed, their voices blend with an uncanny, almost familial consonance, reflecting the dedication and mutual respect behind their partnership. "I get along with Darrin like family," Jamie explains. "For six years, we've been working on different projects. But we've talked to each other on the phone just about every day all during those six years."
"I threw songs at him, he threw songs at me," Darrin remembers, looking back at the formative stages of their collaboration. "We went for timeless things, things we wouldn't mind singing from now on."
Darrin's sister, bluegrass star Rhonda Vincent, has her own studio. Darrin asked her if he and Jamie could use it. The exceptional blend of their voices on songs like "By the Mark" captivated Rhonda and everyone else who heard the sound. Soon they were the most talked about new bluegrass band on the circuit – well before most fans heard any music at all. Pop pianist and songwriter (and bluegrass fan) Bruce Hornsby observed that "Their name is on the lips of everyone in the know, as far as I'm concerned."
Like most overnight sensations, however, Dailey and Vincent are two men who have paid their dues many times over. Born December 27, 1969, Darrin Vincent first gained notice as a six-year-old tyke in his family's band, The Sally Mountain Show, in Missouri. In the 1980s, he was in The Rage, the band led by his celebrated sister Rhonda Vincent. He continues to co-produce her acclaimed albums with her to this day. From 1990 through 1997 he backed John Hartford. In April 1997 he joined Ricky Skaggs' award-winning band, Kentucky Thunder. He is proficient on guitar, bass, and mandolin and is highly regarded for his harmony-singing talent.
"I'm kind of a fish out of water," says Darrin. "I've been behind people my whole life – my sister, John Hartford, Ricky. I've never taken front and center stage. Not even one time. I tell you, when I sang 'Cumberland River' at the IBMA convention, I was scared out of my mind. It was extremely, excruciatingly scary."
Jamie Dailey, on the other hand, is noted as a lead singer. But forming this duo was a big step for him as well. Born June 9, 1975, he was plucked from obscurity by Doyle Lawson to become the tenor lead vocalist in the much-awarded Quicksilver.
"People would ask me when I was a teenager if I would ever want to do this for a living," Jamie recalls. "I said, 'Absolutely not. I would hate that. I never want to be on the road.' I didn't think I wanted to travel. Around that time, when I was 16, I heard Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. When I heard Doyle for the first time, it changed. I was like, 'That's what I want to do.' And then, in August of 1998, he called."
Having heard of Jamie's talent, Doyle called to inquire whether the high-singing youngster would like to audition. Jamie graduated instantly from singing in local Tennessee bluegrass groups to playing bass and guitar and singing lead and harmony vocals in one of the most famous bluegrass bands in America.
Taking with them the lessons they've learned from their former employers, their friends, and their families, Jamie and Darrin produced Dailey & Vincent themselves. With pride, they included on the sessions their band members Jeff Parker (mandolin, harmony vocals) and Joe Dean (banjo, bass vocals). Adam Haynes has since been added on fiddle. The result is twelve brilliant performances from two men who sound born to sing together, delivered with a thrilling blend of clarity, precision, and soul. Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have given their lives to bluegrass, to both the traditions and the possibilities that it offers, and now they've made the album of their lives. Is it possible to be both classic and brand new? Meet Dailey & Vincent.