Vince Gill: 'I'm crazy about music'
By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer
Though Vince Gill, with 40 hit singles to his name and 26 million albums sold, is the biggest name in the Time Jumpers, the singer said he's thrilled to not be in the spotlight.
"This band, aside from myself and maybe Ranger Doug (Green of Riders in the Sky), is full of session musicians — road dogs who have played for everyone else in their career," Gill said. "It's neat to see these guys get the chance to shine in a band of equality, to get the attention that they deserve based on what kind of musicians they are.
"It's fun for me to sit back and watch them shine," he said.
"Nothing but the Blues," The Time Jumpers
Audiences will see what Gill means when the Time Jumpers make their Amarillo debut in a 7:30 p.m. Friday concert in the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Buchanan St. The band will perform two fundaising concerts this weekend for the historic Granada Theater in Plainview; the second is set for Saturday in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Tickets for the Amarillo show are $35 to $55, plus fees; call 806-378-3096 or visit PanhandleTickets.
The Time Jumpers were born backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, where Green, fiddler Kenny Sears and others used to fiddle around with Western swing tunes between shows. They formed a band and took on a Monday-night residency at the Station Inn bluegrass club and started attracting the musical cognoscenti of Music City to their shows — like Gill, who started filling in when he could.
"Being an Okie, that's the kind of music I grew up on and loved," Gill said. "It felt like home, and they play Western swing about as good as you can."
He ended up joining full time in 2010 — a move that has helped bring the band out of Nashville and onto the road, recording two albums and scoring four Grammy nominations along the way. But for Gill, the joy is in the playing, not in the attention.
"It's the furthest thing from showbiz, you know," he said. "That's what I mean about it being a band of equality. A pretty neat democracy goes on up there on that stage.
"How many of us sing?" He stopped to count. "Six of us sing. ... We all just spread it around. Everybody plays solos, and there are some great arrangements. And on some stuff, people just play what they feel.
"It seems like that's the way to make music — an open floor, not a dictatorship," he said. "Everybody in there is doing their part for the common goal of serving that song.
That democratic approach to music is a hallmark of Gill's long life as a professional musician, which began in bluegrass bands in Oklahoma and Tennessee, the 1970s rock band Pure Prairie League and his multiple award-winning solo career.
"I think I'm a musician first," he said. "I was a guitar player before I ever had the courage to sing. It's always important that the musical side of me was just as present as the side up front singing the song.
"It's a harder job to be in the supporting cast, to help somebody achieve what they're trying to achieve," he continued. "When they do get to do what they want, you have to support it, have to wrap your arms around what that person is doing and make it better. To me, it takes a much more talented musician and set of ears to accomplish that."
So those expecting to just hear Gill perform a litany of his hits at Friday's show may be in for a surprise. Though he'll likely perform some of his most famous songs, he's not there to steal the spotlight. And he likes it like that.
"I'm crazy about music, and I think people would be surprised that I don't have to be the focal point to get the joy out of it," Gill said. "The subtleties in it are something that I am always inspired by. I may be the only one who hears it, but if I accomplish it and I tet there, I feel like I'e done something to make it better."
Gill also enjoys that the band pays tribute to styles of music that paved the way to his own career.
"They don't just do Western swing. They dust off some old country tunes, too," Gill said. "It's the polar opposite of what's current.
"I love trying to keep current (including with a new album, Down to My Last Bad Habit, this year), but sometimes, it's nice to remember where you've been."
"New Star Over Texas," The Time Jumpers