Gill pulls out all the stops on new tour
By PETER COOPER
Vince Gill is at the Ryman for two gigs this week, playing shows that will spotlight music from his four-disc These Days set.
Unlike a usual tour, where Gill performs with his regular road band, this time he's bringing along an expanded crew of musicians. The idea is to allow him free reign to switch between country, bluegrass, pop and rock, in much the same way he did on These Days.
"It's slightly extravagant," Gill said. "I realize that it's not a feasible, money-making, typical way of touring. But to promote this album it kind of had to be this way."
If Gill loses his shirt on the tour, he's joked that it's OK, he has lots of shirts. For the moment, he's reveling in the opportunity to play expansive, three-hour shows with a once-in-a-lifetime touring band. And this week's shows will be filmed for a DVD release.
Here are Gill's comments on the players:
Tom Britt, guitar: "I first met him in 1975. He's played with Leon Russell, played with Patty Loveless. He plays a lot of unique slide guitar stuff, and he's such a great complement to me, to the way I play."
Pete Wasner, keyboards: "I've been playing music with Pete since 1979, out in Los Angeles. He's a very, very soulful player. He played with Lowell George when Lowell left Little Feat, and we've done a bunch of gigs with just the two of us."
John Hobbs, keyboards: "I met John in 1977, when I first moved to L.A. I was playing with Byron (Berline), and he was the piano player everybody called. He played on my first solo record in 1983, and he co-produced the new album."
Billy Thomas, drums: "I met him in the mid-'80s when I moved to Nashville. A tremendously great singer. He was the drummer and high singer in McBride and the Ride."
Jeff White, guitars: "Jeff has kind of been my Don Rich (referring to Buck Owens' guitar-and-harmony foil). He takes most of the high harmony duties, and he's been with me for 17 years. He's a great bluegrass artist and has made two solo records: one called The White Album, which I always thought was pretty funny."
Dawn Sears, vocals: "Stand back, man, Dawn is a singer. She might be one of my top three or four favorite female country singers of all time. She handles 'When I Call Your Name' and the real traditional country stuff. She's one of the Time Jumpers (a group that plays weekly at The Station Inn)."
Michael Rhodes, bass: "We met playing with Rodney Crowell back in the early '80s. Over the years he's become one of the first-call people when you need a bass player for a record. A great, great player."
Russ Pahl, steel guitar, other guitars: "Some people hire steel players because they won't play too much in a traditional way. They'll find ways to approach the instrument that are more rockin' or this or that. They want the sound of a steel, but not the twang. In my band, Russ has had more and more fun 'cause I'm going, 'Go ahead, be as twangy as you want.' "
Charlie Cushman, banjo and guitar: "Charlie's a really good guitar player and plays some rhythm parts. In the bluegrass set, he shines on banjo. One of the best banjo players in bluegrass."
Deannie Richardson, fiddle: "I just adore Deannie. I first knew of her from playing with Patty Loveless. We've been on the road a lot together, just with different bands. Sometimes great country fiddlers aren't great bluegrass fiddlers and vice-versa, but she encompasses those styles. She knows the difference and plays the difference."
Bekka Bramlett, vocals: "When Bekka moved to Nashville she sang on my High Lonesome Sound record, on a song called 'Down in New Orleans.' She sang, I stood up in the studio, took a chair and slung it out the door and said, 'Listen to how great that is! Do you realize what we're hearing?' There's a rarity and an instrument there that's unlike anything I'll ever hear again. The bloodline of her mom and dad, of (famed 1970s duo) Delaney & Bonnie is so
Big Al Anderson, guitars: "Big Al comes and goes. He's always welcome. He'll be there in Nashville. We haven't known each other that long, just my last couple of records. I knew all about his band, NRBQ, but I never had met him. He's a musician that does so many things I can't do. What he does is what we call 'puttin' the stink on it.' It's something no other guitar player can do. It's an amazing thing to stand next to and hear. And he sings great, obviously. It's rockin' and in a real authentic way."
The Saffire Blue Horns: "With them, I get to feel like I'm James Brown, without being able to dance. Barry Green on trombone, Mike Haynes on trumpet, Mark Douthit on sax and Doug Moffett on baritone sax. As serious as serious can get. It's the first time I've toured with a horn section. They bring an element of power to the band, and it's like all things new again. That's why this band is so much fun. It can be authentic in about as many different ways as you want to go. We can be a five-piece Rolling Stones band, a big band Tower of Power with a horn section, we do one thing that sounds like Dixieland, and the jazz stuff is authentic, then the bluegrass stuff is five of us gathered around a microphone. The country stuff is a primitive, great little country band. You look up at the end of the night and go 'Man alive, we covered some music.' ''