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First Class Bluegrass

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Dailey & Vincent live up to 'real deal' billing

By Greg Summers

Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent are indeed the real deal.

And given the way the two veteran musicians are taking the bluegrass scene by storm, there is a lot of truth to their “Real Deal” nickname.

The award-winning duo will be in concert here at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Fairway Room at Lancaster Golf Club.

Calling them award winners is an understatement. After walking away with an unprecedented seven awards, including Entertainer of the Year, at the International Bluegrass Music Awards in 2008, Dailey & Vincent dominated the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass of America awards show Feb. 15.

Together, they were honored for Bluegrass Band of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Gospel Group of the Year and Song of the Year (“By the Mark”). Dailey was named Male Vocalist of the Year and Vincent was named Bass Fiddle Performer of the Year.

“It’s been a whirlwind since Day 1,” said Dailey, during a Wednesday interview while he and Vincent were driving from New York back home to Tennessee.

This has been a success that neither saw coming. Critics liken the duo’s sound to old-time outfits like the Louvin Brothers, who are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

“We don’t take that lightly, either,” Vincent said. “To be mentioned in the same sentence with the Louvins is a real blessing.”

The two veteran musicians literally stumbled upon something in 2003 when they were asked to perform on “Christmas Grass Volume 2” for Koch Records. At the time, Dailey was lead singer for Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Vincent, the brother of Rhonda Vincent, was bass player for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder.

When the two were paired together to record the well-known Christmas song, “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” with just a mandolin and guitar, the uncanny blend of their voices surprised everyone.

When the song was released, Dailey said the e-mails, cards and letters starting “pouring in.”

“I told Darrin ‘I’m pretty doggone stupid, but I think there’s something special going on here,’ or at least we hope there is. If there’s not, we’re not going to be in this business very long,” Dailey said.

“We had such a unique harmony and blending that nobody – not even us – expected it,” Vincent said. “Since then, this whole thing been a little overwhelming.”

That version of “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem” climbed to No. 1 on the Prime Cuts of Bluegrass chart, which led the two to seriously consider performing together. From there, they evolved into structuring a duo and band that would become Dailey & Vincent.

The other three members of their band are Jeff Parker on mandolin and vocals, Joe Dean on banjo and vocals, and Adam Haynes on fiddle.

Coupled with business knowledge gained from Lawson and Skaggs, Vincent said they created a very organized business model that other musical acts band are now following. They started saving their money and developed a solid business plan for four years before striking out on their own. That business plan has even appeared in a Wall Street Journal article about the state of bluegrass music. 

“It’s almost like having your own presidential cabinet to get advice from,” Vincent said. “We don’t make any decisions or set any goals without involving everybody.”

In a WSM Radio interview before appearing on the Grand Ole Opry in December 2007, Dailey said stepping away from the sure jobs they both had was tough.

“Both of our planes were flying perfectly fine on their own and we were parachuting,” Vincent said.

But it was a risk worth taking.

In June 2008, their self-titled debut album reached the top spot on the Billboard Music bluegrass chart. It remained in the top five for 37 weeks and three singles from the album – “By the Mark,” “More Than a Name on a Wall” and “Sweet Carrie” – reached No. 1. 

“Darrin and I appreciate good songs, but I can honestly say that gospel music is our favorite kind. We love secular songs that are family-oriented, too, but there’s something special about singing a gospel song,” Dailey said.

“All we ever wanted to do was make good music and build a little fan base of our own,” Vincent said. “We’ve been blessed beyond belief. Bluegrass fans are the most loyal and greatest fans in the world.” 

Another one of the goals in Dailey & Vincent’s business plan was realized Feb. 7 when the two were guests on “A Prairie Home Companion.”

Recorded at the show’s home theater, The Fitzgerald in St. Paul, Minn., and hosted by Garrison Keillor, “A Prairie Home Companion” is heard by more than 4 million listeners each week on 580 public radio stations and around the world on America One and the Armed Forces Network.

“To walk up on that stage and sing our songs in front of Garrison was a mind-blower,” Vincent said. “They were really coming out of their seats.”

However, there is a downside to their recent fame.

Dailey said family, traveling, business meetings, tours and taking care of the books leaves little time for MySpace and answering e-mails from fans. They just finished recording their second album, “Brothers from Different Mothers,” which will be released March 31.

“We’re still the same people we were before,” Dailey said. “We just don’t have time to do some of the things we used to do.

"If you come to one of our concerts, I can promise you that we will be there until the last person leaves. We’ll sign whatever they want signed and stay just as long as they want us to stay,” Dailey said. “You can count on that.”

Want to go?

WHO: Dailey & Vincent

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 6 p.m.

WHERE: The Fairway Room at Lancaster Golf Club, 1821 Spring Club Drive

HOW MUCH: Advance tickets are $20 and $25 the day of the show. Tickets are available at Sambo’s 903 Drive In, 1445 Flat Creek Road

INFORMATION: 286-2119 or (843) 450-7278