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The Time Jumpers Bring Country Back to Washington

The
Time Jumpers Bring Country Back to Washington
By Philip
Crabtree
Washington, DC,
was treated with a caliber of music on Thursday that is seldom talked
about unless witnessed in person. Nashville, Tenn., super group The
Time Jumpers kicked off their east coast tour at The Hamilton just
one block away from the White House.
I call them a
super group, because the resume’ of their individual performers is
nothing short of phenomenal. Take pedal steel guitar player Paul
Franklin for example. Franklin has been named the ACM Pedal Steel
Guitar Player of the Year eleven times. Franklin’s career expands
more than five decades now and includes performing with artists in
very different genres to include Barbara Mandrell, Sting, Megadeth,
Barbara Streisand, and the King of Country, George Strait.
The other
musicians and singers are no less great than Paul Franklin is. Lead
vocalists Kenny and Dawn Sears take you on a musical journey with The
Time Jumpers that harkens back to a day when neon lit up the night
sky and social media consisted of turning on the radio and dancing
with your best girl in the glow of car headlights. The velvety
smoothness of Dawn’s voice seduces your ear and makes you forget
about any troubles you left at the door when you came in. Combined
with Kenny’s western twang, classical violin training, and decades
of fiddling experience and the band transposes the audience to a
place where western swing reigns supreme and the family radio helped
keep the family together.
The entire band
shares similar credentials that include decades of playing on the
albums of numerous musical greats as session musicians as well as
their own bands and playing live with Willie Nelson, Asleep at the
Wheel, McBride and the Ride, Vince Gill, Brian Wilson, and The
Chieftains. Between them, they have been awarded 24 Grammy’s, 18
CMA Awards, World Champion Fiddler titles, and have been recognized
for not only their musicianship but also their songwriting prowess.
The Time Jumpers
brought all of this to bear when they brought traditional country
music back to America’s capital city Feb. 7. With the band playing
“Texoma Bound”, the intro from their self-title album, the Grand
Ole Opry came to The Hamilton and mixed with the usual urban beats
that promulgate through the city. Once the crowd was warmed up,
Kenny Sears led the band in their rendition of Bob Wills’ “Sugar
Moon”. Most of the show featured legendary artist and band member
Vince Gill singing with Dawn Keys on such numbers as “New Star Over
Texas” and “San Antonio Rose”.
“This is a dream
come true for me,” said Sears. “I hope you’re enjoying what
you’re hearing and what I get to share on stage.”
Dawn’s hopes are
well placed. I thoroughly enjoyed the almost 3-hour show as did the
rest of the sold out crowd that attended. Although the room was very
intimate, with tables just three or four feet away from the stage,
some couples were able to find a little floor space to get up and
dance to the solid rhythms and melodies coming from the 10-member
band. Most of the night, it seemed another couple would steal the
spotlight as Brad Alvin swung his bass fiddle back and forth while
backing up the front row. If his bass had a flexible neck, I’m
sure she would have been dipped more than once as she danced on stage
with Brad.
The character of
The Time Jumpers’ sound is not only characterized by its
sweet-as-molasses vocals and jazz and country infused guitar. It is
also defined by the three piece fiddle section comprised of band
leader Kenny Sears, Larry Franklin, and Joe Spivey. When these men
put bows to strings, you can hear the whine of a freight train
charging down the track at you. This is not the kind of train you
leap away from, though. This one hits right in the chest throws you
aboard, promising you the ride of your life.
Considering how
accomplished the musicians in The Time Jumpers are, thought to turn
to those of “where have they been”. They have been playing in
Nashville in a very loose and casual atmosphere. They’ve been
known to get together backstage at the Opry just to pick around and
eventually started playing together at the Station Inn on Monday
nights, usually know to be pretty slow for customers.
Word got out they
were having these jam sessions there and guests like Robert Plant,
Bonnie Raitt, and Sheryl Crow started sitting in. Vince Gill was
also one of those who would sit in and eventually joined the band.
Eventually, Monday nights became packed, and the band had to change
venues. They now play at the legendary 3rd & Lindsley on Monday
nights where they have a bit more room.
The band is now
out on tour to support their first studio album, which was recorded
at Vince Gill’s home studio. “We didn’t start the band to
tour,” says Kenny Sears. “We never expected any commercial
success with it.” As it goes sometimes in life, things can get out
of hand. As Kenny explains, “There’s a faction of people who
love our music.” Hearing their music, seeing their live show, and
watching how people respond to it, they may not have a choice.
“Maybe we can
turn The Time Jumpers into something we can tour with. We’re
awfully proud of what we’re doing,” Kenny says.
Some have
criticized whether or not there is still a place for traditional
country music. The Time Jumpers, their fans, and their peers prove
there is plenty of room for them. They were nominated for two
Grammys this year for Best Country Album and Best Vocal Performance
by a Duo or Group country music. While the awards went to the Little
Big Town and the Zac Brown Band respectively, they have shown that
their special blend of western swing, jazz, big band, and traditional
country music is developing a following and is a force to reckon
with.
The Time Jumpers
will continue to tour along the east coast of the U.S. through this
week, playing in Virginia, New York, Maine, and Pennsylvania. They
will return to Nashville and their regular venue at 3rd &Lindsley
on Feb. 18. Keep an eye out for other shows this year including one
in Lexington, Kentucky, and two planned shows in Switzerland. For
more information, go to their website at www.thetimejumpers.com.
###
About the author: Philip Crabtree
holds a B.S. in Recording Industry Management from Middle Tennessee
State University, and he is currently pursuing a master’s degree in
Public Relations from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, where
he is focusing on the entertainment industry. He serves in the U.S.
Army as a public affairs officer and is president of Double C
Publicity, LLC. He can be reached at
philipcrabtree@doublecpublicity.com
Kenny Sears pulls a bow across his
fiddle as his wife Dawn Sears lends her smooth voice to another great
tune by The Time Jumpers. (Photo by Philip Crabtree)
The three-piece fiddle section of The
Time Jumpers consisting of (from left to right) Larry Franklin, Joe
Spivey, and Kenny Sears. (Photo by Philip Crabtree)
Vince Gill lends his world renowned
tenor voice to ballad accompanied by The Time Jumpers bass fiddle
player, Brad Alvin. (Photo by Philip Crabtree)
Vince Gill (left) and Paul Franklin
(right) fill the room at The Hamilton with the unique sound The Time
Jumpers have become known for. (Photo by Philip Crabtree)
Kenny and Dawn Sears share a laugh as
Vince Gill shares another one of his colorful stories about family
and music. Along with being the “Guitar Slinger”, Gill is a
masterful and captivating storyteller. (Photo by Philip Crabtree)

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