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Bluegrass greats Dailey & Vincent roll into town

Bill DeYoung

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A dozen years have passed since Dailey & Vincent exploded onto the bluegrass stage as the “new kids on the block.” Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent were young whippersnappers, full of fun and joi de vivre, who imbued bluegrass and old-time acoustic country with freshness and vibrancy; the fact that they happened to be brilliant musicians, jaw-dropping harmony singers and seasoned professionals – Dailey had spent nine years with Doyle Lawson’s band Quicksilver, Vincent played with Ricky Skaggs’ Kentucky Thunder for 11 – made the duo something of a revelation. A breath of fresh country air.

In advance of Dailey & Vincent’s Feb. 18 concert at the Palladium Theater, Darrin Vincent called to chat about their distinctly American form of music, and why it speaks to people all over the world.

“My opinion? It’s so raw,” he says. “And people like to see your ability to sing and play without any effects, smoke and all that stuff. I just think it’s the realism of it. And people can talk to you, approach you, even on a social level, one-on-one like they would their family – or friends. I think that’s very appealing to people.”

Vincent plays standup bass, mandolin and guitar; he and guitarist Dailey both sing like the proverbial birds. They’re accompanied by a crackerjack five-piece acoustic band.

Rhonda Vincent, the acclaimed singer, mandolinist and bluegrass bandleader, is Darrin’s older sister. They grew up in Missouri as part of the Sally Mountain Show, a popular family band that traveled the American festival circuit.

Darrin Vincent first appeared onstage at the tender age of 3, singing with the family. He started playing guitar when he was 6. “Dad and Mom, that was their goals in life,” he explains, “but as a child, I wanted to do other things.”

But bluegrass, bluegrass gospel and old time country was pretty much all he knew; and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. “After I turned 18, got out of high school and all that, I thought ‘What am I gonna do with my life now – go to college or try to do music?’” Vincent remembers. “Music was more the path because it was what I was familiar with. I’ve never really had a day job.”

When Rhonda struck out on her own, he followed suit, and for a while played in her solo band. Following this, he performed (for seven years) with folksinger, fiddler and banjo player John Hartford.

“He was really my first ‘get out of the family’ kind of thing,” Vincent says. “He was wonderful to work with – it was just John, (mandolin maestro) Mike Compton, myself and a bus driver, just the four of us traveling around the United States playing old time fiddle music.”

The serious Big Time beckoned when Ricky Skaggs sought him out.

“John was business, but it was more like a family,” Vincent explains. “Ricky was business. He had people in place who were road managers, audio engineers … structures. Ricky really showed me the structure of how professional you need to be, and how business needs to run with the music.”

From Skaggs, he learned “how to pick great musicians, and singers, how to apply them around you to make you better. Because that’s what he did. He’s one of my favorites in the whole world. The way he was able to pick out people, it’s like when you’re picking out the ingredients to make food. You pick out the right ingredients that taste the best – that’s what he did, he’s an expert at it. And he always finds wonderful players and singers to complement what he does and what he’s wanting to do.

“And it really showed me how to be a cohesive unit, and to make great records – it really stands the test of time when you do a great recording.”

Vincent and his buddy Jamie Dailey had always enjoyed singing together when their respective bands were in the same town; “and a lot of people liked what we did together as singers – and also, just as people, being funny and enjoying ourselves, just bein’ normal.” Eventually, they both decided it was time to try something new.

“We’d really capped out, financially – we’d hit the top of what we were gonna be able to do,” Vincent reports. “I won five Grammys with Ricky. I’d done everything I could do there.” By starting his own band, with Jamie, “I could be my own boss, and take my family with me.”

Dailey and Vincent have a Grammy Award, a Dove Award, and an astonishing 13 awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association, and 23 from The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America. They were inducted as members of the Grand Ole Opry in 2018. The Daily & Vincent Show is now in its third season on the RFD TV network.

In certain circles, they’re called “The Rock Stars of Bluegrass.” They have a tremendous following in Europe.

Reality check: Twelve years into it, Vincent confirms, life is good. He and Dailey haven’t gone the way of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, who famously stopped speaking to one another, while still working together onstage.

“We’re kindred spirits,” Vincent laughs, while confirming that the notion of “separate buses” has yet to come up. “I feel like we’re brothers. We just get along so well. I can’t explain it; I think the Lord had his hand on it, and that’s what he wanted to work.

“I still laugh at him; he laughs at me. We have a great time, and we have a good bunch of guys around us that we picked, that we love to sing with and play with. And travel the world with. We’re just a brotherhood, and it doesn’t get old. We’re having fun, and that’s the bottom line.”

Tickets and info here.

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