Louisville.com caught up with Tyminski while he was playing golf in Franklin, Tennessee, and battling the heat and poor reception on his cell phone. Despite the circumstances, he was gracious, humble, and down to earth - just what you'd expect a bluegrass star to be.
Louisville.com: Everybody knows you as a member of Union Station, but this summer alone, you have or will played shows with Ronnie Bowman, your own Dan Tyminski Band, and with The Travelin' McCourys. Can that be difficult to do, or is it simply a matter of playing different material?
Dan: Well, I think that's probably the biggest part of it. As far as the hardest part of it, it is definitely learning the different material you are not used to playing. But you know most of us guys that are playing together - that get a chance to play together - we all kind of grew up listening to the same stuff and playing the same stuff, so assuming we know the gist of how the songs go, it's typically pretty easy to play together.
Louisville.com: Bluegrass and traditional country fans knew who you were before O Brother, Where Art Thou?, when you covered the Stanley Brothers Man of Constant Sorrow, but how did that exposure to other listeners who didn't know you before that change both your career as well bluegrass's increased mainstream awareness and acceptance?
Dan: Well, I think it's one of those rare songs that because of how it came along in the movie and who sang it and all the people involved got a lot of attention from outside of the normal bluegrass listener. So, I think its biggest effect was really outside of bluegrass music all together. I noticed shortly after that song came out and after it became a big deal, there were a lot of people asking questions like who else should I listen to and what other type of music is there like that. Those are types of questions that are definitely coming from someone who didn't grow up listening to that type of music. So for me, the biggest advantage of being a part of that was getting to see how far it reached outside the genre of bluegrass music.
Louisville.com: Were you surprised with how popular the song and soundtrack got?
Dan: I was shocked. I really have to be honest and say that I was. I mean we were all involved because we were Coen brothers' fans and we thought it would be neat to get to be part of the movie in whatever way we could. And we've been recording this music for a lifetime, and you're only used to seeing a certain amount of success when you play music like this. It usually will only reach to so many people, but that was neat that it was such a popular tune. I think that surprised everyone whose every played this music because it's typically not that widely accepted.
Louisville.com: I'm not sure how many you won from that recording, but overall you've got 12 or 13 Grammys?
Dan: Somewhere in my house there are 13 Grammys yes.
Louisville.com: That's enough to let your kids take them in for show and tell. Does that ever become old hat, or is it humbling each time you win one?
Dan: Actually, it's very humbling each time you receive something like that. As far as the Grammys go, it's more about acknowledgment from your peers and other people in the industry, so to be recognized by the people who do the same thing that you do is the biggest part of that honor.
Louisville.com: You've released two solo albums yourself, including 2008's Wheels, which won 2009 Album of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. By the way, a great video to the title track. Where was that filmed? There's some great scenery in there.
Dan: It was a train that went up and down the West Coast.
Louisville.com: So, what are your current recording plans? Playing on others' albums? Will another solo album come out before another Union Station album?
Dan: Well, right now with Union Station, we are nearing the end stages of a new project for us, so we're back working again to put out another record, so we're kind of excited about that. I have another solo project that's slated, but I don't know that I can finish that before - right now the priority is on the AKUS record.
Louisville.com: You mentioned Union Station; it wasn't too long ago that you all recorded your live CD and DVD here in Louisville at the Palace. So, you know Louisville pretty well. Louisville used to host the IBMA Awards and lost them to Nashville - not a shabby music town to lose them, though. Bluegrass fans here would like to do something to bring them back. Is there anything they can do, or is it a corporate or label issue?
Dan: You know I can honestly say I don't really have a handle on how they choose Nashville over Louisville because we were used to going to Louisville for so many years. I like how close it is to me now, that I have easy access, but I'm still trying to get used to it not being in Louisville.
Louisville.com: Do you live close to Nashville now?
Dan: I do, yes. I live just south of town. I live in Franklin, Tennessee.
Louisville.com: That's quite a musical hub, actually.
Dan: There's a lot of musicians who seem to gravitate to this part of the country.
Louisville.com: How old were you when you left New England?
Dan: I was 20 years old. I moved from Vermont to Roanoke, Virginia. I joined a band called the Lonesome River Band. I was with the Lonesome River Band for five or six years until I joined Alison.
Louisville.com: Outside of bluegrass, what musicians do you listen to? As a virtuoso musician yourself, who out there do you really respect in the music industry? Who influenced you?
Dan: Wow. There's so many. I can't really name any for fear of leaving somebody out, but I typically liked the banjo growing up and for me, it didn't matter who was playing, I always went and tried to sit in front of the banjo player and take in as much as I could. One of my early heroes growing up was a guy who played with Del McCoury named Paul Silvius. Paul was someone who I just listened to over and over and over again. Of course, J.D. Crowe would probably top of the list. I credit him with lighting the official fire in me - as I listened to that '76 album and just absolutely fell in love with it. But there's a really long list of guys out there. The guy I listened to most was J.D. Crowe; he was easier to get a hold of, but I listened to a lot of Paul Silvius whenever I could.
Louisville.com: Interesting that you'd mention Del McCoury because you will be playing with his whole band expect for him here at HullabaLOU in the Travelin' McCourys? Will you do some Del McCoury Band songs, your solo songs, covers, or a mix? Can we expect you to do lead vocals on Nashville Cats? Or do you just mix up the set with your stuff as well as there's.
Dan: I think it's more of a mix of songs. I think we play some of their stuff; they play some of our stuff, and we fill in the gaps with some traditional stuff.
Louisville.com: So will your record be on hold because of - I'm assuming a Union Station tour after that album comes out?
Dan: I'm not going to look at it as putting it on hold. I still have enough off time to where I should still be able to work on it even while we're working, but I wouldn't look for it before the AKUS record.
Louisville.com: I'm assuming living right there makes it pretty easy to get to the studio whenever you need.
Dan: On paper, yeah, it's supposed to be. But when you start working it out, there always seems to be something to stop you or set it back, but for the most part, there's plenty of studio access, and gosh there should be enough musicians here; that's for sure.
Louisville.com: If you can just get through Nashville traffic. All I know is that every time we drive through Nashville, there's something going on to hold us up.
Dan: Amen. I'm telling you. It's a busy place.
Louisville.com: Have a good trip up here, and we will see you at HullabaLOU. Hope you have a good stay in Louisville.
Dan: Oh, I know we will; I'm very much looking forward to it.
Watch Dan Tyminski's video for Wheels.