John Goodspeed – MySanAntonio.com
Vince Gill is a busy guy, jetting around the country while squeezing in a concert Saturday at the Majestic Theatre.
Last Thursday, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame just a two-step away from the one for his wife, Christian-music singer Amy Grant, who cheered him on along with fellow Oklahoma native Reba McEntire.
“I came out here (when I was 19) with a banjo and a guitar to sunny Southern California to try to make it,” Gill was quoted as saying at the ceremony in a story by KABC-TV. “I was inspired by Steve Martin, but the two things or three things that I never took into consideration was I could not act, he was a better banjo player than me, and he was funny.”
Wednesday, Gill was scheduled to sing for golf legend Arnold Palmer when he received the Congressional Gold Medal in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in a presentation by House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“This is a great stretch of life for me. It’s not just about me but other things and other people,” Gill said in a phone interview from his home in Nashville, Tenn.
On Sept. 24, he will receive an Academy of Country Music Honors Award at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
“That’s an old guy award,” said the 55-year-old member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, who over a career spanning five decades and stints with Pure Prairie League and Rodney Crowell’s backing band the Cherry Bombs, has amassed 20 Grammys, 18 Country Music Association Awards and sales of more than 26 million albums.
Tuesday, he released another as a member of The Time Jumpers in the western swing band’s self-titled debut studio album on Rounder Records.
“The people in Texas will love this band,” Gill said. “It’s an 11-piece western swing band with three fiddles, and almost all the material is original but the songs sound like they came from ’40s and ’50s, from Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys.
“‘New Star Over Texas’ sounds like ‘Faded Love.’ We all revere that music.”
The Time Jumpers formed in 1998, when a group of elite studio and touring musicians began jamming for fun and the love of their favorite songs. They quickly found a home with a regular Monday night gig at Nashville’s Station Inn and recently moved to 3rd & Lindsley Bar and Grill because of the crowds.
While Gill has been sitting in for years singing and playing electric and acoustic guitar, he officially joined in 2010. They recorded the album in Gill’s studio at his home.
“It’s really fun for me to be in a band full of such gifted musicians,” Gill said. “It pushes me to be a better musician.”
The artists the musicians have recorded and toured with pretty much run the gamut of Billboard’s country chart for the last 30 years and range from Ray Price to Carrie Underwood.
While membership has changed over the years, the current lineup is Dennis Crouch, upright bass; former Asleep at the Wheel member Larry Franklin, fiddle; Paul Franklin, steel guitar, “Ranger Doug” Green of Riders in the Sky, vocals/acoustic guitar; Dawn Sears, vocals; her husband, Kenny Sears, vocals/fiddle; Joe Spivey, vocals/fiddle; Andy Reiss, electric guitar; Jeff Taylor, accordion/piano; and Billy Thomas, vocals/drums.
Dawn Sears and Thomas also perform in Gill’s touring band.
Gill does not plan to play any of The Time Jumpers’ songs, though, at the Majestic Theatre.
“Those people are coming to hear me do the songs I’m known for,” he said. “Every time I played the Opry, Roy Acuff would come over and say, ‘Boy, you need to sing the one that brought you here.’”
He has plenty from which to choose, including “When I Call Your Name,” the title cut of his 1989 MCA Records debut album that established him as a force on the country scene.
“I always wanted to have a popular song to sing, and I feel grateful every time I sing it,” he said. “That song changed my life.”
Other top songs in his repertoire include “Never Knew Lonely,” “Pocket Full of Gold,” “Liza Jane,” “I Still Believe in You,” “One More Last Chance” and “What the Cowgirls Do.”
“My nine-piece touring band has some really amazing, gifted musicians,” he said. “We don’t blow things up or run around on stage, we just play and sing. The band gets to shine with some great solo musicianship. It’s kind of a hillbilly jam band at times.”
Gill, whose personable, quick wit led to a record-setting 12-year run as co-host of the CMA Awards, always is ready to give credit to others.
“My greatest hope for The Time Jumpers project is for people to hear how great Dawn Sears is,” he said. “She’s one of the greatest singers I’ve ever heard, Connie Smith kind of great — unsurpassed when it comes to great country music.”