"There's a little bit of everything going on," says country star, whose Time Jumpers were just nominated for two Grammys
Vince Gill has plowed a lot of musical ground over his career. From a stint as lead singer of Pure Prairie League to his award-winning solo career, he has excelled at many different styles of music. As the Country Music Hall of Fame member celebrates three decades in Nashville, he – as the old saying goes – 'keeps on keeping on,' with several musical projects in the works.
"There's a little bit of everything going on," Gill tells Billboard. "Next month, I'm starting a new record on me. I've also just recorded a duet album with Paul Franklin that is a real traditional country record. We did five Buck Owens songs and five Merle Haggard songs that really feature the steel guitar, my telecaster playing, and me singing, so it's turning out so good. I'm having so much fun re-discovering these old songs. I'll probably also do a bluegrass record this year, as well. I've just got the bug to be creative in a bunch of different places."
In addition to his performing, he also is enjoying delving into production. In the past he has produced projects on Sonya Issacs and LeAnn Rimes' under appreciated 2011 disc "Lady And Gentlemen." His most recent experience behind the glass was producing Ashley Monroe's Like A Rose -- set for release by Warner on March 5. The singer feels that there's not a lot of difference between being the artist or a producer -- you just have to know your role.
"I think it's the same. All you're really doing is trusting your ears. And trying your hardest to not get in the way of a great song and a great vocal performance. You just pick your spots where you try to nip and tuck things. I think they should call it a 'reducer' rather than a producer, because the object is to edit things, get what is the most necessary, and discard the rest."
Gill is also excited about his role in the super group The Time Jumpers, a Nashville phenomenon that plays each Monday at 3rd And Lindsey. The singer states that he was a fan long before he was a member.
"I used to go down and see them on Monday nights when they were at the Station Inn. I'm an Okie, and if anyone is playing western swing, I want to go hear it. That music is a huge part of my background and upbringing. Occasionally, they would call me in to sub, and I would go down and play guitar all night. For me, it was beyond fun. I didn't have to go down and talk between songs, I just got to go down there and be a guitar player. Lo and behold, some of the folks quit, and they asked me if I would ever be in a band again. I said 'Well, I would this one."
Their Rounder release won rave critical acclaim last year, and resulted in a pair of Grammy nominations.
"There's a lot of neat things happening for this band," Gill exclaims. "Everybody's embracing it, and having a good time. What's so refreshing about a band like this is that we've seen and done most of everything that we're going to do to some degree, playing with other people, and making our own records. Joe Spivey travels with John Anderson, and Ranger Doug has Riders In The Sky, Dawn Sears and Billy Thomas play with me on the road, and Paul Franklin plays three sessions a day anytime he wants, so it's a gifted bunch that is doing music for the pure love of doing it. It doesn't get any better than that. Everyone gets along.
It's not like we're trying to be the Beatles. It's a great stretch of life."