Tony Rice covers that will make listeners want to revisit the original recordings.
Tribute albums should generally be approached with a degree of caution, with very few albums, and even individual tribute tracks, improving or even equalling the originals. However, the better tribute albums can bring an influential artist a greater public profile and, if they are very good, bring out different perspectives to the work of an artist, and it always helps if the musicians on any tribute album have a real connection with the subject. Union Station’s Dan Tyminski’s ‘One More Time Before You Go’ is his EP homage to legendary bluegrass musician Tony Rice, and he calls on the support of Tony Rice contemporaries Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Todd Phillips, and contemporary bluegrass musicians Molly Tuttle, Billy Strings, Dailey & Vincent, Josh Williams, and Gavin Largent to help him. With an artist as influential as Tony Rice it is extremely difficult to sketch a picture of the artist using only five songs, but this is what Tyminski has done.
Tony Rice was a key influence on Dan Tyminski taking up the guitar, and the idea of a tribute EP grew over time as he dealt with his own feelings following Tony Rice’s passing. The song selection, including a heartfelt self-penned tribute song, and the calibre and range of supporting musicians are clear evidence of the appreciation and understanding of Tony Rice’s artistry that is on show here. This attention to detail follows through to the cover which celebrates Tony Rice’s acknowledged skills as a watchmaker and his obsession with the Bulova Accutron Spaceview. If there is one song that could be said to encapsulate Tony Rice it was his version of Norman Blake’s ‘Church Street Blues’ and here Tyminski is accompanied by Molly Tuttle in a version that adds a new dynamic with the addition of Tuttle’s guitar and vocal harmony that both honours the original version but also gives a glimpse of how his influence will continue into the future. Tyminski wrote the title track ‘One More Time Before You Go’ with guitarist and ex-Tony Rice Band mandolinist Josh Williams as a way to deal with the shock of Rice’s passing. The recorded version on the EP includes Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Todd Phillips, as well as Tyminski and Williams.
Tony Rice really broke through as a guitarist on the classic newgrass album ‘J D Crowe & The New South’ in 1975, and he was a serious fan of Gordon Lightfoot covering many of Lightfoot’s songs during his own career. The New South album had a profound influence on a young Dan Tyminski, and here he covers Gordon Lightfoot’s ‘Ten Degrees (Getting Colder)’ backed by contemporary bluegrass band Dailey & Vincent with a version that captures the high lonesome bluegrass sound with lyrics that describe the hard life of a hitchhiking musician, who just happens to have a Martin guitar. In 1980 Tony Rice was best known for his Spacegrass recordings that showed his more jazz leanings with the Tony Rice Unit, but that was the year he also released a duet album with Ricky Skaggs, ‘Skaggs & Rice’, that looked back to the country brother acts of the ‘30s and ‘40s. Current hot shot guitarist Billy Strings joins Tyminski on a version of ‘Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies’ from that album that shows both musicians fully understand the history of country and bluegrass music, and the vocals would lift the roof off any church on this gospel number. Though Tony Rice’s fame rests on his innovative guitar playing, his vocals were also a thing of wonder and beauty, and this meant that while he wasn’t really a songwriter, he was able to record great covers, with one example being Mickey Newbury’s ‘Why You Been Gone So Long’ that was on Rice’s ‘Native American’. Tyminski is joined by dobroist Gaven Largent for a lively take on this now classic Mickey Newbury track.
‘One More Time Before You Go’ is a great listen, with performances that at once remind you of the Tony Rice versions and the range of his artistry, and hint at the ongoing influence his music continues to have. The fact that Dan Tyminski hadn’t originally planned to record a tribute album, and the affection and depth of understanding of Tony Rice’s music that all the musicians evidence, are some of the reasons this is a very effective tribute to a legendary artist that also makes you want to revisit the great man’s catalogue. Dan Tyminski can feel suitably proud of ‘One More Time Before You Go’.