Dan Tyminski
Photo: Courtesy of IVPR

Dan Tyminski Pays Tribute to his Musical Hero Tony Rice

Dan Tyminski and friends Molly Tuttle, Jerry Douglas, and Sam Bush join forces to pay tribute to bluegrass guitar legend Tony Rice on One More Time Before You Go.

One More Time Before You Go: A Tribute to Tony Rice
Dan Tyminski
22 July 2022

Much has been written about the lack of heroes in contemporary American society. Studies reveal that most people credit their parents and intimate friends as their most admired figures rather than public characters. Musicians, who once were the subjects of favorite personalities, are more commonly derided for their feet of clay than respected for their accomplishments. However, some artists are revered by their colleagues but never achieve much acclaim from the general public. When these individuals die, their fans mourn, but the hole in the music that never got written goes mostly unnoticed by the masses.

Guitarist Tony Rice died on Christmas day 2020. He was a prime example of what it means to be a musician’s musician. Rice was noted for his smooth conversational style of acoustic playing. He began in bluegrass, but his flat-picking style transcended conventional genres and invited comparisons to the best jazz, country, and rock guitar performers. There was something warm and inviting about how Rice strung the notes together, showing how complex a seemingly simple tune could be. He sang in a plain, conversational voice that suggested he was an old friend who was always welcome in one’s home or at the next stool at the bar.

So far, there have been two post-humous tribute albums to Rice: the Punch Brothers’ Hell on Church Street and Barry Waldrep and Friends Celebrate Tony Rice. The Punch Brothers began working on their record with Rice’s permission before he died. The caliber of Waldrep’s friends (Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, John Paul White) suggests how well-regarded Rice was by others. Now the third tribute to Rice has emerged by Dan Tyminski, singer, guitarist, and longtime member of Alison Krauss & Union Station, a five-song EP titled One More Time Before You Go: A Tribute to Tony Rice.

The 14-time Grammy-winning guitarist Tyminski wrote the title track (with Josh Williams) as a way of dealing with his grief after hearing of Rice’s death. He enlisted masterful modern-day acoustic bluegrass instrumentalists to help him: Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Todd Phillips. Rice was known more for covering other people’s songs than as a songwriter. Tymanski’s renditions of four songs Rice was known for playing also feature the cream of current country pickers, including Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings.

Tuttle and Tyminski turn Norman Blake’s glorious “Church Street Blues” into a beautiful act of faith and hope, where yesterday’s terrible news lines the soles of one’s holey boots, and making music is its own reward. Their instrumental interplay and shared vocals uplift the spirit in some mysterious way. Tyminski and Strings capture the same magic in the gospel “Where the Soul of a Man Never Dies”. Their vocal harmonies ring with the pain of a sinner while their fingers offer praise for redemption. The mix of the two sounds makes one a believer!

For many, Rice was best known for his many covers of Gordon Lightfoot songs. At one point, he collected 17 of them (several previously released) and released them simply as Tony Rice Sings Gordon Lightfoot. This EP features bluegrass group Dailey & Vincent joining with Tyminski on the classic Lightfoot tale of a lovelorn troubadour, “10 Degrees and Getting Colder”, that captures the high lonesome spirit of bluegrass with that of a Canadian lost in the American Rockies. The view may leave the listener gasping for breath.

RATING 8 / 10