Dan Tyminski Biography

Dan Tyminski photo by Russ Harrington, courtesy of Rounder Records.

Dynamic on stage, down to earth off stage, Dan Tyminski has the voice, instrumental chops, and charisma to be counted among the most recognizable and popular male vocalists on today’s bluegrass and country music scenes. Yet his demeanor – low-key and laconically sly – ensures that all the accolades are the product of his own innate gifts. Since 1994, his ace instrumental skill (mainly on guitar, but also on mandolin) and burnished, soulful tenor singing have been key components of Alison Krauss and Union Station, arguably the most visible and successful bluegrass band in the modern era. Prior to that, he rose to national prominence as a member of bluegrass favorite, the Lonesome River Band.

With Union Station on hiatus for most of 2008, Dan has formed a new incarnation of the Dan Tyminski Band and, on June 17, 2008, released his second solo album, Wheels, on Rounder Records. A riveting collection that blends the sophistication of Union Station with the intensity of Dan’s hard-driving approach, Wheels features a program of unflinching, evocative songs dealing with conflict, transition, heartbreak, and the passage of time. Heard throughout is the new edition of the Dan Tyminski Band: Dan’s Union Station bandmate Barry Bales on bass, former Union Station and Mountain Heart member Adam Steffey on mandolin, sideman extraordinaire Ron Stewart on banjo and fiddle, and newcomer Justin Moses on fiddle, Dobro, and banjo.

Wheels is introduced by the brisk, bittersweet title song, which begins with a stark guitar and mandolin chop before the rest of the band gracefully enters to color in the song’s picture of a man picking up and moving on, searching for a new start. Dan’s Union Station bandmate Ron Block contributes two songs to Wheels, including "It All Comes Down To You," an indictment that is at once scathing and forlorn. Block also guests on guitar on his two tracks. Country star Vince Gill adds a tender tenor harmony to "How Long Is This Train," which was written by Blue Highway’s Tim Stafford and tells the story of an elderly father waiting for his son’s return – a tale that ends in a tragic twist. Cheryl and Sharon White add exquisite harmonies to the closing song, "Some Early Morning." "Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On" is timeless, straight-ahead bluegrass and is a wonderful example of Dan’s mastery of the genre.

The Dan Tyminski Band, l-r: Barry Bales, Adam Steffey, Dan, Justin Moses, Ron Stewart. Photo by Jimmy Abegg, courtesy of Rounder Records.

Growing up in the unlikely bluegrass state of Vermont, Dan Tyminski very quickly saw there was little difference between the rolling hills of New England and those of East Tennessee, as his parents raised him to a soundtrack of bluegrass and old-time country music. His family took advantage of the fertile festival scene in the northeast, and his mother was unafraid to pick up a guitar and sing a few bars from time to time. She was his first inspiration, proving that music was both within his grasp and something that could set him apart. When barely 21 years old, he was plucked from the ranks of regional bluegrass bands to join the Lonesome River Band, appearing on their 1989 release Looking for Yourself. He carried on (with one brief respite from 1992 through 1993) with 1994’s Old Country Town, during which time the Lonesome River Band emerged as one of the most influential acts in modern bluegrass – crafting a sleek sound that still had deeply-felt echoes of bluegrass’ rural roots.

Although he was briefly a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station during his break from Lonesome River Band in 1992-1993, Dan signed on full-time in 1994 as guitarist, lead and harmony vocalist, and occasional mandolinist. His forceful vocals showcase the band’s commitment to classic bluegrass, even as their sound has evolved into a richly hued hybrid that draws from a myriad of styles and sounds. When singing together, the silken voice of Krauss and more roughly-hewed quality of Dan’s voice make an unlikely and utterly riveting combination.