Friday, January 11, 2008

Tyminski Band steps up on first tour dates

[Adam Steffey and Dan Tyminski at RCBF.]

After a kickoff gig at Nashville's Station Inn on January 2, the spanking new Dan Tyminski Band played its first road dates January 4 and 5 in San Francisco and Portland OR, where I caught their set at of the RiverCity Bluegrass Festival.

The band will be one of the marquee acts on the roots festival scene in 2008. With Alison Krauss doing other projects this year, Tyminski and other members of Union Station have stepped up in this new configuration.

AKUS members Tyminski (guitar), Barry Bales (bass) and Justin Moses (fiddle) join with former member Adam Steffey (mandolin) and super-sideman Ron Stewart (banjo) in the new configuration. Steffey and Stewart each stepped down from prominent roles in other bands to join with Tyminski.

As the band took the stage, it immediately fell into an effortless bluegrass groove. This is not a band trying to invent anything self-consciously new. It's just does what comes naturally, mixing rich vocals and tasteful instrumentals and seeming to embody the essence of contemporary bluegrass.

Some of the songs were not familiar to me and are likely to be featured on the group's forthcoming CD, due in March or April. Tyminski performed some of the material from his 2002 solo CD, including a great rendition of Hank Snow's "Sunny Side of the Mountain." Of course, he told his George Clooney story and offered his hit version of "Man of Constant Sorrow."

Steffey, Stewart and Bales also took turns on lead vocals. Stewart impressed with his breakup song "Ain't Taking You Back No More." For me, the highlight of the set was Steffey's vocal on the AKUS standard "No Place to Hide," reprising his role with the pre-1998 version of Union Station.

The band sounds as if it has been playing together for years, as smooth and mellow as honey dripping off a spoon. Audiences at MerleFest, Stagecoach, Rockygrass and many others will be in for a treat as Dan Tyminski and friends fully grow into their groove.

No comments: