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Dan Tyminski takes the wheel

By Jeffrey B. Remz, September 2008

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"I said that's a rough song, but it's a Del McCoury song...I've done a lot of songs like that, but that's a graphic song. That would probably be the biggest exception of melody matching words. If you were just to listen to that song without words, you wouldn't necessarily feel that much ill intent." (the song concerns domestic abuse and murder with "two children left without a home/wondering what's going on")

While not a member of the DTB, fellow Union Station member Ron Block contributed two songs - "It All Comes Down to You" and "The One You Lean On." The former "touched a different side of my emotions," says Tyminski. "It's not necessarily an angry song, but it's a very aggressive raw feeling song to me. When I heard Ron first do that song, and he actually has a recording of it, and that was one of the ones that was kind of teetering on the fence, and I didn't know if I should do a song that's already been recorded in such a similar way. With that being said, it worked for me and this band. When I brought it up with Ron, he (said), 'if you want to do it and you enjoy doing, by all means, do it'."

Tyminski blames his brother Stan with giving him the musical bug while growing up in Rutland, Vt. "I definitely have to give him credit. He was the first one to bring traditional bluegrass to my attention. It was in the form of 'JD Crowe & the New South,' the 1974 record. That was the record that he first played for me. It changed how I thought about music. I was 12 1/2, and it was J.D. Crowe's banjo playing on the song ('I'm Walkin' and Tyminski says the lyrics) 'I'm walking yes indeed, and I'm talking,' which burned into my brain forever. I listened to that song over and over and over again. I'm fascinated by the banjo."

Did Tyminski entertain music as a career in his youth? "I've kind of always known. I knew when I was very small. I had very encouraging parents and family that encouraged/informed me that I was a musician. Dad is a mechanic. Mom is a homemaker. My mom had a guitar, and she played and sang a little bit, but never professionally."

At 21, Tyminski joined the Lonesome River Band, first appearing on their 1989 release, "Looking for Yourself." Tyminski remained with LRB until 1994 (he did take a brief break in 1992-93 from LRB during which time he played with Krauss + Union Station before returning to Lonesome River Band). In 1994, Tyminski joined Krauss for good as guitarist, lead and harmony vocalist. Tyminski also appeared on Krauss' solo disc, "Forget About it" (1999) in addition to the Krauss + Union Station releases.

"I was given a job opportunity to be guitar player/vocalist for Alison," says Tyminski. "It was my favorite band. On some levels, (it was) an easy decision. On other levels, very difficult. I was very close to the guys in Lonesome River Band, and they were very close friends and parting in a situation like that is never easy."

Tyminski received what proved to be a huge career break in 2000 with the Coen Brothers' movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" George Clooney had the lead role in the quirky, but enormously popular movie. "We were approached, Alison Krauss + Union Station, possibly to do some of the soundtrack music, and when we showed up for our audition, they had yet to cast Clooney's voice," says Tyminski. "

Clooney tried handling the singing chores as well on the Stanley Brothers' "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow." But that did not work out so well.

"He wasn't sure if he wanted to sing it himself or if someone else was going to do it," says Tyminski. "My manager had just mentioned that I might be a candidate. I went back for a separate audition the following day and did my version of the song, which was very different from what ended up making up the record. Somehow I'm still trying to out figure out how the stars just lined up. They thought someone my voice sounded like George Clooney. That's the Coen brothers. They have their own take on everything. To my surprise and delight, it was one of those situations, they said don't call us, we'll call you, and they actually did call."

The song turned to be a huge success, receiving the Country Music Association Single of the Year award, an IBMA award for Song of the Year with the album named Album of the Year. Tyminski also received a Grammy award for Country Collaboration with Vocals, the "O Brother" soundtrack won the Grammy for Album of the Year.

Beyond winning awards, the album was considered to have a tremendous impact on bluegrass and old time music, exposing a whole new generation of music listeners to the sound. "It's been such a popular music and brought so many new faces to the music," says Tyminski. "A lot of people who are fans identified with 'Oh Brother' and then the rest of the stuff that you do. That seemed to strike a chord."

2000 is now a long time ago, and much has changed in the music industry and for Tyminski especially thanks to Krauss' continued status.

As for the concept of the Dan Tyminski Band, the leader says, "I've never really had a burning desire to run a band or to have a band or to be a front man in that way. But we do plan on staying together. We have a special combination of guys here right now. Musically, on a personal level, just in all ways, we seem to click. There's enough time in the year. We work maybe 60-70 shows tops with Union Station, which translates into 120 or 130 days. That leaves two-thirds of the year to fill up. I'm going to try fill that up with Dan Tyminski Band."

"All of the guys short of Barry, all of them left the job they currently had to make this happen. It would be really difficult to leave their jobs and not play. We're trying to really make it happen."

Irwin is hopeful about the future of the Dan Tyminski Band. "We're certainly interested in additional records," he says. "It could be one of those things, depending on what happens with AKUS, that Uncle Earl refers to a long-term part-time band. I could see that working because AKUS doesn't have the need to be as much as they have in the past."

Looking back at the long wait, Tyminski says, "It's always a sense of relief when one does get finished and comes out. With this group of guys, I'm definitely looking forward to the next one."

With a band or not, will it be another eight years until the next Dan Tyminski Band project? "It will not be eight years," says Tyminski, before apparently joking, "Whether it's shorter or longer, time will tell."

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