july 2008

A True-Blue Bluegrass Boy

By Billy Altman

Dan Tyminski

As bluegrass fans know, singer/guitarist Dan Tyminski has spent better than a dozen years riding shotgun for Alison Krauss & Union Station. And while no one would argue that the Lonesome River Band alumnus hasn't had a significantly raised profile because of it—after all, not everyone gets to lip-sync for George Clooney—the release of Wheels should help keep anyone inclined to take him for granted good and honest. That's the way to describe this album, too: good and honest. With time off from Union Station offering him the opportunity to record on his own, Tyminski has produced an album that provides ample evidence that he remains, at heart, a true-blue bluegrass boy.

For this, his first solo outing since 2000's short and sweet Carry Me Across The Mountain, Tyminski has assembled a crackerjack quintet featuring old and new colleagues: Adam Steffey (mandolin), Barry Bales (bass), Ron Stewart (banjo and fiddle) and Justin Moses (fiddle, banjo, dobro). They all play here not only with almost nonchalant virtuosity, but also a real sense of team spirit—not surprising, considering that both qualities are so characteristic of Tyminski's own style.

Drawing on a wide-angled array of inside and outside material highlighted by Stewart's frisky "I Ain't Taking You Back No More," Patrick McDougal's gliding title track, and Blue Highway man (an ex-Union Stationer) Tim Stafford's poignant war-themed ballad "How Long Is This Train," Tyminski and his mates keep things, as they say, "close to the ground." Chief soloists Steffey, Stewart and Moses effortlessly bob and weave around each other, and even when they cut loose on Steffey's breakneck-paced instrumental "Knock Knock!" there's an overidding implicit respect for the genre that's as admirable as it is enjoyable. And that respect is one thing you certainly can take for granted with Dan Tyminski—soggy bottom and all.

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Derk Richardson
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Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY; www.flickr.com/audreyharrod), Alicia Zappier (New York)
E-mail: thebluegrassspecial@gmail.com
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