The Time Jumpers
Going for gold
What: The Time Jumpers
When: 7 pm Sun., Jan. 15
Where: Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial St.
Wednesday, January 11, 2017
We get Grammy winners dropping by around here often enough to not get too overly riled up about it. Sure, a Grammy or two is definitely impressive, but we are a discerning audience that needs more than a little awards-season bling to capture our fancy.
But what about, say, 20 Grammys?
That seems like an achievement well worth getting overly riled up about.
The number of musicians that can boast such an accomplishment is ridiculously small. Stevie Wonder has 25 Grammys. Beyonce and Bruce Springsteen have 20 each. Paul McCartney is closing in on 20, with 18 statues to his credit, and he’s in good company with both Aretha Franklin and Tony Bennett.
And country star Vince Gill has, over the course of a music career both long and varied, nabbed 20 Grammys of his own.
That means that when he plays Bellingham with the rest of the Time Jumpers on Sun., Jan. 15, a whole lot of golden gramophones will be represented on the Mount Baker Theatre stage. Indeed, Gill has won more Grammys than any other male country music artist. He’s also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and an 18-time CMA Award Winner. He’s sold more than 26 million albums, charted more than 50 Top 40 hits and recorded more than 20 albums.
Suffice it to say, he’s kind of a big deal.
Gill earned all his accolades via a winning combo of hard work and sheer musical talent. A renowned singer with a voice that is instantly recognizable to all manner of country fans, he also thrives on collaboration and some of his most well-known songs are the duets he’s sung with other artists. But Gill does more than just stand behind a microphone and belt out songs—he’s a skilled multi-instrumentalist as well.
Given all of that, I’m beginning to understand why people like to hand out awards to him with such regularity.
But despite Gill’s undeniable status as a serious heavy hitter, the rest of the Time Jumpers can certainly give him a run for his money when it comes to musical ability. Make no mistake: The 10 musicians that comprise the current lineup of the band may not be household names, but every one of them has a resume both long and impressive.
Yodeling guitarist “Ranger Doug” Green toured with Bill Monroe while he was still in college and has a couple of Grammys of his own to his credit. Paul Franklin is an always-in-demand pedal-steel player who got his start in Barbara Mandrell’s band, and has recorded with everyone from George Strait and Alan Jackson to Barbra Streisand and Megadeath. Kenny Sears bought his first fiddle when he was 7 years old with money he’d earned picking cotton, and has made himself a career in which playing classical violin with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and fiddle with the Grand Old Opry band are not mutually exclusive endeavors. Doing double duty on the fiddle is Larry Franklin (no relation to Paul), who played with Asleep at the Wheel for seven years (and won two Grammys), and has recorded with Reba McEntire, Brian Wilson, Randy Travis, Shania Twain, and many others. Drummer Billy Thomas is a member of Gill’s touring band, and before Gill got his hands on him, Thomas toured with Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton, Ricky Nelson, and more.
And that’s barely the half of them.
What the Time Jumpers have in common—besides enough musical experience to play an endless of one-upmanship with each other—is they’re all renowned Nashville session musicians. And what do you get when you put nine of Music City’s very best hired guns on the same stage as its most-decorated male singer? Possibly the deepest roster of country talent that has ever been fielded at the Mount Baker Theatre.
The Time Jumpers began nearly two decades ago, almost as a lark. Essentially, a group of session musicians wanted to jam together outside the strictures and deadlines of the studio. Nashville’s storied Station Inn had a Monday slot open and a need to drum up a little business on what had been an historically slow night and so a musical residency of sorts was born. The Time Jumpers’ membership was fluid, but the music—mostly country and Western swing with some bluegrass, jazz and pop standards—was always excellent. It wasn’t long before they gained a following. And then an ever-growing fanbase. And then people like Bonnie Raitt, Reba McEntire, Robert Plant, and the White Stripes were stopping by and sitting in, and suddenly Monday was the new Friday night in Nashville. After a decade at the Station Inn, they took their show to a larger venue, and in 2010, Gill joined up, officially making this cadre of self-proclaimed “superpickers” into a supergroup.
Given how busy each member of the Time Jumpers is, touring tends to be a catch-as-catch-can endeavor for the group. Tickets are still available for their Bellingham show, and opportunities to see this much concentrated Grammy power in one place at one time in this town are a rarity—at least until such time as Queen Bey and the Boss see fit to grace us with their presence, that is.
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