If they’re practical about it, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent will take a shopping cart to the International Bluegrass Music Association awards show Thursday night (Oct. 2) at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Together, as the hot new vocal duo Dailey & Vincent or as separate musicians, the two are nominated for 10 awards, including entertainer of the year. Odds are they’ll take home several trophies.
Dailey, whose singing voice soars to ridiculously high levels, has a different view.
“The only thing we’re going to take [to the show],” he says, “is two bodyguards with machine guns, because whoever wins the female vocalist of the year award, I’m going up there and take it away from her.”
Although the two men have been prominent on the bluegrass scene for years — Dailey as a member of Doyle Lawson’s band and Vincent as one of Ricky Skaggs sidemen — they didn’t vault into the spotlight until their self-titled debut album came out this past January.
When Dailey & Vincent call CMT.com to chat, Dailey does most of the talking, partly because that’s one of his roles on stage and partly because Vincent is feeling a bit under the weather and inclined toward long periods of silence.
Early on, the question arises of why Dailey & Vincent have done so well — so quickly — in a market that’s saturated with musical talent. Dailey points to a few events he thinks have boosted their career. One of the main ones was performing with gospel music legends Bill and Gloria Gaither on their Homecoming tours and being included in their popular concert DVDs.
Another was their appearance at the Country Music Hall of Fame induction ceremonies for the Statler Brothers, where they came close to stealing the show with their joyful rendition of “Do You Know You Are My Sunshine.”
Besides these high-profile events, the duo has played dozens of the country’s biggest bluegrass festivals. Dailey estimates that by year’s end, he and Vincent will have played at least 135 shows. Bookings for 2009 are, he adds, are already “coming in pretty heavy.”
So far, no major country acts have asked the versatile pair to open for them, but, says the ever-eager Dailey, “We wouldn’t mind if they did.”
In their album, Dailey & Vincent include two songs co-written by the Statler Brothers’ Jimmy Fortune (“More Than a Name on a Wall” and “I Believe”) and another song (“Place on Calvary”) that was written by Langdon Reid, son of the Statler Brothers’ Don Reid.
So why this fascination with the Statlers? After all, they’re not bluegrass.
“When I was 9 years old,” Dailey begins, departing from his wisecracking tone, “my dad and mom were going through a divorce. My dad had bought me this boom box and a Statler Brothers tape. When I heard it, I just fell in love with it. So, through some very hard nights, their music put me to sleep and took a lot of worrying off my mind.
“’Elizabeth’ [another Jimmy Fortune tune] was one of the first songs I ever heard them do, and I just fell in love with them. I love their harmonies … and their stage presence was unbelievable. To me, they were very funny. Little did I know I’d ever get to know them. It’s been a blessing. And their music really switches over to bluegrass very easily.”
Noting they had picked “Place on Calvary” to record before they ever met any of the Statlers, Dailey recalls, “I just got an e-mail out of the blue one day from Don Reid, telling us he loved what we did with the song, that he’d like to meet us and that he’d be coming to one of our concerts.”
Another song on their album that’s done particularly well for them is David Rawlings and Gillian Welch’s “By the Mark.” Their rough demo of that song single-handedly won them a contract offer from Rounder Records. Moreover, it’s up for two IBMA awards (song of the year and best gospel recorded performance), and it’s the song they’ll perform on the awards show.
From the start, the voices of the two men blended beautifully. But they admit they’ve had to work to get their phrasing and pronunciation to match.
“He comes from east Tennessee and Kentucky, and I come from Missouri,” Vincent explains. “He sings like me on the songs I lead, and I sing like him on the songs he leads.”
In their division of duties, Vincent oversees the musical chores and travel arrangements, while Dailey writes the stage routines and keeps tabs on business and finance. They do a lot of planning.
“We’re in meetings with our manager, Don Light, every Monday morning for at least a couple of hours,” Dailey reports. “We talk about where we are with everything and what’s going on — the latest news. Then the last part of the day, we do phone interviews and run errands together.
“Usually on Tuesdays, I meet with our business management people and go over finances and do more interviews if our publicist has them set up. Then, every other week, we meet with our whole team and the record company on conference calls. We talk about career development and strategy. That’s one thing I told Darrin I wanted from the get-go — the best team of advisers we could find.”
By such attention to detail, Dailey says, career errors have been kept to a minimum.
“We try to look at the mistakes we’ve made and not repeat them,” he emphasizes, to which the ever-helpful Vincent responds, “We try to make new mistakes.”
Artistic disputes are rare and always solved amicably, according to Vincent.
“We both respect each other enough that if one of us feels strongly about something, we’re still willing to see the other side and give and take,” he says.
“If not,” Dailey chips in, “one takes the other off and slams the door on his head.”
Their second album is “about 75 percent complete,” by Dailey’s estimate, and is projected to be out in late February.