To hear Vince Gill tell it, the members of The Time Jumpers may not have stars in their eyes, but they have plenty of swinging songs in their hearts.
Western swing songs, that is.
“You know what the cool thing is? This is a band of people that have done this their whole lives. This is a band that we don't have stars in our eyes; this is something we're doing because we love it. And it's really neat. It's a neat project, it's a neat band,” the Oklahoma native said in a recent phone interview from his home in Nashville, Tenn.
“It's full of great musicians that just want to play great music. Do we want to get on a bus and go tour and have hits? Probably not. And is that gonna happen? Probably not. So, it's really a win-win for us. You know, we're having a ball.”
In an era when electric guitar odes to pickup trucks and singalong party anthems dominate mainstream country radio, The Time Jumpers are making music in the spirit of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Released Tuesday, the 11-piece Western swing band's self-titled album also dabbles in other classic genres, from the smoky jazz torch song “Faint of Heart" to the bouncy cowboy song “Ridin' on the Rio.”
There's even yodeling.
“It's an unbelievably talented bunch of musicians, so it's a big step up for me musically to play with a band of this caliber and to play the music that I kind of grew up on back home,” Gill said.
For instance, Paul Franklin, whom Gill calls “arguably the best steel guitar player in the country these days,” earned a Country Music Association Award nomination last week for musician of the year, while singer/acoustic rhythm guitarist “Ranger Doug” Green fronts the Grammy-winning band Riders in the Sky.
“Everybody in this band has something that they do regular for their living for the most part. This is the kind of thing that's born out of the love of the music,” said Gill, who is playing a benefit show Sunday at his alma mater, Northwest Classen High School, and headlining next month's Oklahoma International Bluegrass Festival in Guthrie.
The Time Jumpers started out in Nashville in 1998 as an assemblage of stellar studio musicians who just wanted to play together. Since Monday evenings were the slowest of the week at the Station Inn bluegrass club, they were able to nab a weekly gig then and there. Earlier this year, the Western swing outfit made the leap to the much larger 3rd & Lindsley nightclub to accommodate the crowds clamoring to see their Monday night shows.
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It's full of great musicians that just want to play great music. Do we want to get on a bus and go tour and have hits? Probably not. And is that gonna happen? Probably not. So, it's really a win-win for us. You know, we're having a ball.”