By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
RUTLAND—Dan Tyminski is excited to play the Vermont State Fair on Friday because he’s coming home.
Tyminski has been living in Nashville, Tennessee, the past 15 years but was born and raised in West Rutland.
“[I’m] so excited to be coming to the fair. I was shocked when it showed up on my schedule. I opened my calendar and thought, holy smokes. I grew up going to the fair so it’s very near and dear to me,” he said.
Tyminski lived locally until 1987. “I can’t wait to get up there because I see it so seldom. My favorite pizza place in the whole world is there, Ted’s Pizza.”
Tyminski attended kindergarten through 12-grade graduation in West Rutland. He first picked up mandolin at 6 years old but said, “I really got the bug and bitten when I was 12 and started playing banjo and then it was all banjo until I was 20.”
He moved to Ferrum, Virginia, and joined The Lonesome River Band, playing mandolin. After five years he joined his only other band, Alison Krauss and Union Station. He’s been with them playing guitar ever since (26 years), except for when he does his own thing. Krauss discovered him from a record he did with the LRB, “Looking for Yourself.”w “I got a job offer after she heard that recording,” he said.
He’s coming to Rutland with very different music than he grew up playing. “I’m coming with a new record. It’s big, heavy, thick with influences from all types of music. It’s not the bluegrass that I’ve been playing,” he explained. He’ll be joined by five guys that he says sound like 10. They’ll play some new stuff, old stuff and some Union Station stuff. “We got a big show coming,” he said.
Tyminski is the voice on Avicii’s “Hey Brother.” Avicii, who sadly passed in April, said he had a song he pictured Tyminski singing on.
“My assistant asked if I was interested in doing a song for this guy who does EDM [Electronic dance music]. I had no idea what EDM was. This was so far from what I do, ‘How about thank you but no thank you.’ She asked if I wanted to hear it before the ‘No thanks.’ I got to hear the lyric and the melody and it just made perfect sense. If it doesn’t go well, no big deal because it’s a different crowd than I play to. I had no idea what to expect and it completely blew me away. It was fun to be so outside of the box that I’m normally used to being in. It was interesting how it came about and just luck that I decided to do it. When I told my 19-year-old daughter about the opportunity, she flipped out and said, ‘If you don’t do it, I’m out. I’m not your daughter anymore.’ She convinced me to give it a try and when it blew up, I said, ‘I’m a genius,’” he said.
Tyminski grew up watching local music around New England. “I’d sit as close as I could to the stage and watch them play music. I was fascinated by it. If there was music within a three hour radius, we were there. We hit everything from 1975-1985. If it was reachable, I reached it,” he said.
During his teen years, he and his brother Stan played in Green Mountain Bluegrass. They played mostly in New England but stretched down the East Coast. He still loves that music and his go-to record is from 1975, Rounder Records 0044. That album introduced him to the talents of Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, and Jerry Douglas.
Tyminski has a song featured in the movie, “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou,” too.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” he explained. The Coen Brothers got Krauss’ manager to be in charge of local talent for the soundtrack. “We obviously were in the audition pool and we’re all such big Coen Brothers fans.”
After trying out, their manager suggested Tyminski be given a shot for George Clooney’s voice. “It was comical. I didn’t think I sounded like Clooney, I still don’t think I do. I went back, auditioned and got the part. That was an enormous life-changer and turned so many heads. It was a thrill to be a part of it.”
The album, won a Grammy. He won a Grammy with “Man of Constant Sorrow” and they (he and Krauss) both won numerous other awards from it. “What a phenomenon to watch it unfold back then. I grew up playing banjos and mandolins. You don’t think about Grammys. It’s an honor to have the people in your industry recognize your work. The people who vote are the people who do it for a living. Grammys are a big deal.”
“I encourage people to go and hear live music. It touches your soul in a different way than sitting in your living room and putting a CD in your stereo. Whatever the music is doesn’t matter, but I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to take time out of your life and go watch it being created. It touches you in a way you can’t be touched any other way,” he said.