Dailey & Vincent Return With Brothers From Different Mothers

New Album Blends Bluegrass, Country and Gospel

Editor’s note: May is Bluegrass Month, and CMT.com is celebrating with a series of related stories.

They like the sound of it now, but when Rounder Records chief Ken Irwin first proposed naming Dailey & Vincent’s new album Brothers From Different Mothers, the duo’s excitement level dropped to somewhere well below their knees.

Nearing a deadline, Irwin had called Jamie Dailey to see if he and his duet partner had come up with an album title. When Dailey confessed they hadn’t, Irwin rolled out his own suggestion.

“Really?” Dailey recalls asking Irwin in disbelief. “Let me sleep on it.”

The next morning, Dailey and musical partner Darrin Vincent met with their manager and publicist.

“I brought that name up,” Dailey says with a wince in his voice, “and they all looked at me like, ’Leave!'” Still, since no one had a better alternative, they went with the boss’ idea.

“It actually has worked to our benefit and worked very well,” Dailey admits. “It makes people laugh.” Moreover, says Vincent, the two do have brotherly similarities, apart from their kin-close vocal harmonies. “We have a lot in common,” he says. “We think alike. We love the same food.”

Obviously, they love the same music, too. Brothers From Different Mothers is just as musically scintillating as their wildly successful debut album, Dailey & Vincent, which made them the top new bluegrass act of 2008.

Brothers opens with the rollicking, mile-a-minute hard-luck tale, “Head Hung Down,” and concludes with the stately and yearning “On the Other Side,” which features a string quartet.

Arrayed between these emotional poles are such country standards as Roger Miller’s “You Ought to Be Here With Me” and the Statler Brothers’ “Years Ago,” as well as the gospel durables “Oh Ye Must Be Born Again” and “When I’ve Traveled My Last Mile.” All are made fresh by the duo’s impeccable bluegrass sensibilities.

Before forming their own group, Dailey was a sideman in Doyle Lawson’s band and Vincent in Ricky Skaggs’.

Dailey says the hardest part about creating another album less than a year after the release of the first one was finding time to record. Song selection came easier, he explains, because he and Vincent already had eight or nine favorites picked before they went into the studio.

Their first album was such an out-of-the-box hit that they spent much of last year on tour, a total of 134 shows, Dailey says. This year’s total will come in at around 140 dates.

Last year, Dailey & Vincent swept the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, winning six honors, including entertainer of the year. This past February, they reaped another six trophies at the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America convention, among them best bluegrass band, best vocal group and best contemporary gospel group.

All this acclaim has netted Dailey & Vincent appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, A Prairie Home Companion and MerleFest. “We received great crowd response [at MerleFest],” Dailey reports, “and [merchandise] sales went through the roof that week.”

Of all the songs on the duo’s first album, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings’ “By the Mark” got the most praise, ultimately wining the SPBGMA’s song of the year award. It’s no surprise, then, that Dailey & Vincent have included another Welch-Rawlings composition on Brothers, the Carter Family-style tune called “Winter’s Come and Gone.”

Given the strong musical connection, Dailey & Vincent find it both amusing and puzzling that they’ve yet to meet Welch or Rawlings.

“We dropped by their studio right after the first record was released,” Dailey recounts. “We walked in, and the [receptionist], when we told her who we were, said, ’Oh, yes, we know who you are.’ They had put the picture of our first CD on Gillian’s Web site. So we left our names and numbers and e-mail addresses. Now it’s been a year and a half, and we still haven’t heard from them.”

They had no such difficulty in gaining an audience with the Statler Brother’s Harold Reid when they needed a firm, authoritative judge’s voice for a spoken part in “Head Hung Down.” Reid’s comic alter ego is Lester “Roadhog” Moran, and they figured his volcanic rumble would do the job nicely.

They took their recording equipment to Reid’s home. He explained to them that “the ol’ Roadhog” was “recovering from an autopsy” but that he might be able to help them out.

“Harold was one of the finest gentlemen anybody could possibly be,” Dailey marvels. “He did the line for us, and he kept saying, ’Let me do it again. Let me get this right.’ He worked really hard on it to make it great.”

Later this month, Dailey & Vincent will shoot a music video — their first — for “On the Other Side.” The song was co-written by the Statlers’ Jimmy Fortune.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.