The personnel on Dan Tyminski’s second solo CD, Wheels, all knew each other from past session work.
“While the tape’s not rolling you kind of play and have fun,” Tyminski says of bluegrass multi-instrumentalists Ron Stewart and Justin Moses. “And it just felt good. For eight or nine years we had been jokingly saying, ‘Let’s do something in some way, shape or form.’”
So when Alison Krauss put her band Union Station on hiatus this year to tour with Robert Plant, Tyminski and fellow Union Stationer Barry Bales took advantage. Along with Adam Steffey, a former member of the famous bluegrass group, the collective whipped up an endearing set of driving roots music and evocative ballads. Tyminski’s weathered tenor, so memorable in the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou?, shines at the forefront.
The chemistry they expected to have in the studio has transferred to the road as well.
“I have an extremely spoiled life,” Tyminski says. “Playing with Alison Krauss and Union Station, as far as the musicianship, is on such a high level that it’s amazing to me that I could play in another configuration and still have that level of musicianship. They absolutely blow me away every time we play.”
That was a concept Tyminski picked up on early in life, when his parents would take him to bluegrass festivals in his home state of Vermont and all around New England. He quickly learned the communal nature of the form’s idyllic pedigree.
“There’s just a heightened sense of community there,” Tyminski says. “You go to a new place and park amongst a bunch of strangers, and somehow instantly feel like you’re home.”
Tyminski has certainly found his place in the family. Besides his guitar work and vocal contributions to Union Station and before that in the prominent bluegrass act the Lonesome River Band, Tyminski’s rendition of the Stanley Brothers’ version of “Man of Constant Sorrow” helped introduce the genre to a wider audience. While Tyminski has remained low-key despite his success, he also acknowledges the responsibility that has come with it.
“The things that motivated me early on are still what motivate me now, which are the love of the music and what it feels like to play that kind of a groove,” he says. “But you have to be aware that, whether you like it or not, you are an ambassador for the music anytime you have a bunch of people watching what you do. In life you should always be aware you’re an ambassador for something bigger than yourself.”