The Grammy winner brought his Southern Gothic tour to New York City
To hear a Dan Tyminski record is to hear one of the finest voices in bluegrass and country music. To hear Dan Tyminski live, is to hear a Dan Tyminski record. And it’s nothing short of amazing.
The 14-time Grammy winner stopped at New York City’s Gramercy Theatre last night (Thurs, Jan 18th) for an intimate evening to highlight his newest record, Southern Gothic. The album itself is a masterpiece: blending the sampling habits of EDM music with his soulful bluegrass roots. It creates a sound that began formulating in Tyminski’s mind since 2013’s “Hey Brother,” an electro-trumpet infused EDM track by Avicii on which the bluegrass icon provided the vocals.
The concert at Gramercy only featured two departures from the Southern Gothic album: the a rendition of “Hey Brother” minus the computerized horns, and a cover of the Allman Brothers’ “Come and Go Blues.” The rest of the night, Tyminski focused on his biggest record of his career. A wise choice, given that Gramercy Theatre only allows its artists to play one hour concerts.
Opening with “Breathing Fire,” Dan-who has been rebranded by his “marketing people” as simply “Tyminski”-infused energy into the small room. Backed by a five-piece band, the sound was as full and intricate on pieces like “Numb,” “Haunted Heart” and “Hollow Hallelujah” as they are on the album. Tyminski’s voice, too, was exactly the same: down to his twangy intonations and chill-inducing vibratos. And, if you hear echoes of Ed Sheeran in the latter number, it is because Sheeran’s longtime collaborator Amy Wadge co-wrote “Hollow Hallelujah.”
The intimacy of Gramercy Theatre allowed for the concert to feel like more of a living room performance. While the sound was as loud and as rocking as it would be anywhere, the in-between moments are what truly made the show special. As Tyminski charmingly fumbled around to tune his guitar into the correct key, or looked over his guitarist’s shoulder to check and comment on the set list, it all made the night feel like home.
Due to the fact that the Gramercy is really tiny, Mr. Tyminski even stayed out in the house to visit with lingering concert goers. I was one of the lucky few who got to say hello. It is always meaningful to me when I have the opportunity to thank those that have taken the time to talk with me as a guest on my own online talk show. This is not a shameless plug. When I switched my show to a celebrity format, he was one of the first guests.
For longtime fans of Tyminski’s music, there were obvious selections missing from the concert. His numbers with Union Station, like “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” and “It All Comes Down to You” still contrast nicely to the electrified music he focuses on today. Similarly, “Man of Constant Sorrow,” the staple song from the Cohen Brothers’ classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? was also cast aside. Tyminski provided George Clooney’s singing voice in the film. To this day he continues to tour with “The Soggy Bottom Boys;” the bluegrass musicians who played on the film’s soundtrack.
Those songs represent phases in Tyminski’s career: sideman with Allison Krauss, and movie soundtrack contributor. And this concert tour represents a new phase that began five years ago with “Hey Brother.” Avicii showed Dan Tyminski he was on to something. Tyminski played with it, and the payoff has been bigger than expected. For this, Tyminski says, he owes Avicii “A debt of gratitude.”
It will be interesting to see how his new sound, which has garnered him his first national TV and performance as a solo act, begins to fit with his other, less mainstream bluegrass catalogue in live performances. I got the feel last night during the show and listening to him talk with fans afterward that he is still figuring that out for himself. And I am excited to watch it happen. It will only make him Bluegrass’s biggest crossover artist.