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Dailey & Vincent somehow try topping '08

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2009

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"I was wanting to make a big move. I just didn't know if it would ever happen."

Was Dailey ready for the move to a major player in bluegrass? "No, not at all, but I knew that Doyle had the teaching ability to get me to where I needed to be. When I went in there, it was like boot camp. It was pretty tough." Dailey says it took him 3 1/2 years before he felt comfortable with Lawson.

"Back at that time, he was," and Dailey laughs at this point, "tough. Not only me, but anybody that comes in that group. Everybody that goes through it there. Probably not as much in this day and time as it was then. He's relaxed a little bit, and he's a different Doyle."

"I learned discipline - musical and vocal discipline," says Dailey. "I learned how to be a road pro from Doyle, learned some business things with Doyle."

Dailey & Vincent worked together for the first time in 2004, recording Beautiful Star of Bethlehem for "Christmas Songs Volume 2," a compilation produced by Vincent. "In return, they let Jamie and I have a song on the record...Jamie said, we really needed to do something that shows our vocals and shows just us, really different from the whole other part of the record with instruments guitar and mandolin. We did. It was on Prime Cuts of Bluegrass (a bluegrass radio marketing service), and it was number one for four months straight. When we had that kind of overwhelming response, and people and friends coming up to us saying, 'I want to hear more of you and Jamie singing'...We started trying to work toward that goal of being a duo."

Dailey was ready to strike out on his own. While he enjoyed his stint with Lawson, he also learned a lot about the music business, figuring out what he needed to do to get ahead.

A friend turned them onto By the Mark. "I just had tears in my eyes," says Dailey. "That is so so us, so Dailey & Vincent. I called Darrin up, 'you have to hear this song.'"

Vincent says they recorded the song in his basement. "That's the amazing part about it. We didn't spend a lot of money. We wanted to get it to Ken (Irwin of Rounder Records)...We never touched it any more...If it's not broke, don't fix it. Honestly, we had no idea of what that has created and what has been our main song."

"It talks about the plan of salvation, it talks about going to heaven, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ" says Vincent, a regular church goer. "It speaks so true and so direct yet not beating you over the head...It's so well written."

The song earned them their record deal with Rounder. "They sent me three songs initially and one of them was By the Mark," says Irwin, a label founder from his Massachusetts home. "I'm a duet freak. I just love duets. The arrangement on that as well as the performance absolutely slayed me. The blend of their voices was incredible - phrasing. Everything was just so beautifully done and executed. I was sold on that one song."

"We had a unique blend like the Louvin Brothers," says Vincent. "It was a no brainer."

But leaving the security of Skaggs was not clear cut for Vincent. "Honestly, I don't like change," he says. "I have three children and a wife, so the income was a big thing for me. I was scared of that more than I was anything else - providing for my kids and my wife. As far as talent wise, I always had confidence in Jamie because I think he's one of the best male vocalists we have in our business...Talent-wise, I didn't even question that."

Vincent said, he was "happy in the secure area (of being with Skaggs)," but the long-term benefit was important because looking "20, 25 years down the road, the people we were with, no offense, but they were in their 50s and 60s. Staying another 20, 25 years is just not possible."

"We gave a year's notice to our employers," Vincent says. "To take the risk of not having an income...that was the scariest part for me...To be able to work through the whole year was a blessing for me."

"When (my wife) said 'I believe in you, and I'm supporting you', that next morning I called Jamie the next morning and said, "we're gold.' I haven't looked back. It's been a wonderful blessing. I really believe the Lord has had his hand on things. There's no other explanation for it."

Dailey had no reservations about going on his own. "No, not at all. I called (Darrin) toward the end of 2006, and I told him one night, I said, 'this is it. I'm going in January either with or without you. I can't stay any longer'. There was nothing that was wrong. I was just ready to go. It was time. Once I stepped off the bus for the last time, I didn't look back. I appreciate my time there, and I cherish that time that I spent with Doyle Lawson. It wasn't hard for me to do at all."

Irwin says Dailey & Vincent had the benefit of generating a lot of buzz. Before they even played one gig together, they had 100 shows lined up. "We had a very good set up," says Irwin. "We had the time to set the project up the way we wanted to. They had a great slot at IBMA (in 2007). They did one little showcase just the two of them, and then they did Fan Fest. They played right before Vince Gill. Before they even played a single note, they got a standing ovation. Both of them have so much support from people who have seen and met them over the years. There was so much electricity in the air. People were just waiting to love their music."

"On the one hand, it was great. On the other, the expectations were really high," Irwin says.

"The excitement and buzz coming out of IBMAs spread, and the word spread," says Irwin. "There was expectation from gig one that this was going to be something special."

They were. Dailey & Vincent proved to be the big bluegrass breakout band of 2008. They won entertainer of the year at the IBMAs, vocal group of the year; male vocalist of the year (Dailey); album of the year, which they also produced for Rounder; gospel recorded performance for By The Mark; and emerging artist. Vincent won an award on his own for recorded event of the year and six awards at the SPGMA fest in February.

With the new record at hand, Irwin says, "The expectations are undoubtedly there, but they're less important than their own expectations of themselves or the standards that they set."

"For me, I 'm going to sit back and remain cool, calm and thankful for the opportunity to cut what I think is a record," says Dailey. "I'll let the buyers decide whether it's a good record or not."

"We put our best effort forward, and it's really in the fan's of Dailey & Vincent and the people that play and spin our records - the DJs," says Vincent. "I'm thrilled to death. I'm excited...It's been a lot of fun."

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