Jamie Dailey is one half of the award winning bluegrass music group Dailey & Vincent. Individually he has been nominated numerous times and won Entertainer of the Year and Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year. For the first of what will be monthly columns, Bluegrass Today contributor Lisa Jacobi spoke with Jamie before a recent D&V show about his take on what makes for a great entertainer, his time traveling with the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland, and one of his passion projects that helps children.
Before diving in to the column below, first watch the “What’s In Your Case?” video — it will give you a sense of Jamie’s charm.
Hey Jamie, what’s in your case?
When Jamie Dailey says that “how you act off stage is just as important as how you act on stage” – he doesn’t say it lightly. Jamie really enjoys interacting with people who come to their shows, saying “a true entertainer, in the music that we play, needs to spend time with the fans. We like to have one-on-one contact with the fans every night, because we hear from them on what they like and what they don’t. We hear what’s important to them, what’s not.’ Jamie’s philosophy goes well beyond the stage and the band’s merch table. “It’s important for us to stay in contact with them (the fans) on Facebook, and listen to their emails and listen to what they say.”
“In my opinion, to be a great entertainer you have to do several things. You’ve got to put a show on when you are on stage. It’s not about just standing up there singing one song after another and stopping in between songs and talking in between every song.” – Jamie Dailey of Dailey & Vincent
“One thing that I’m a stickler for in Dailey & Vincent is making sure that when we open up a show, we hit it full force with about 6-7 songs before we stop. Because you have to take in mind and consider that an emcee has been on the stage to bring you on and has talked a good 10-15 minutes or so before bringing you on. So they (the audience) want to hear music.”
When Dailey & Vincent take the stage with the rest of their band, being a great entertainer is job number one. Music fans recognize this and it is why they have voted Jamie and his band mate Darrin Vincent to receive – not once, not twice, but three times – the most prestigious of the awards handed out each year by the International Bluegrass Music Association: Entertainer of the Year.
Many a band in professional music could learn plenty from Jamie Dailey
Feigning a sense of aloofness, as a way to chase an image of star status, is a quality not found in Jamie. The artist is genuine, friendly and passionate about the relationship between music and its interaction with the listener. It’s this music-to-fan heartbeat, plus stunning musicianship and song crafting, that make for Jamie’s soul enriching demeanor. He captivates anyone who comes in contact with him.
I was able to snag Jamie for an Artist2Artist interview while he and the band were in north Georgia to play a show. This was my second face to face with him, we had met briefly a few months earlier when both our bands were part of Jimmy Jam, a star studded fundraising concert at the 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville, Tennessee. In that few seconds of how-do-you-do?… I picked up that he has that extra something that reaches far beyond the music
Like so many of our top drawer bluegrass musical artists, Jamie came from a class of hard working folks.
He was brought into this world in Corbett, Kentucky where his mom and dad were living temporarily for his father’s work. Just the mention of his mom makes his eyes dance. “She understands that life is not fair. She’s very smart and she’s not closed minded. She’s open to new experiences. She never had ridden a roller coaster. I took her to Switzerland and we go to the top of this mountain, a steep mountain, and we get on the roller coaster that goes around the mountain. I would never have thought that many moms would have done that … but she did. One of her best qualities is her personality and she is really funny. I love all that about her.”
Switzerland… did you catch it?
Not only was Jamie with his mother in Switzerland, he was there with another intriguing woman, Faith Whittlesey, the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland under President Ronald Reagan. “I was in … Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver at the time and she happened to come to a bluegrass festival and she didn’t even know what a bluegrass festival was. After we sang, these two big guys stepped up and said ‘Mr. Dailey, the United States Ambassador to Switzerland, Faith Whittlesey, would like to speak with you.’ I thought it was a joke. We hear all kinds of things on the road and you take it at face value, but then she handed me a card before I left and on the card it had a United States seal on it and it said the White House. I was like ‘Whoa, she’s real.’”
Jamie has traveled to many parts of the world with Whittlesey (who is now a member of the United Nations Security Council). While on these worldwide missions, he uses his musical talents and compelling people skills to bring attention to some of the planet’s most dire situations.
His current humanity-passion-project is Feed the Children.
“Look, there are a billion people that don’t get a clean drink of water… every day, a billion people. There’s close to a billion people who go to bed hungry every night. You and I take a lot for granted. If we want a clean drink of water, we go to the kitchen sink and we get a drink of water. If we want to buy our nephew or niece or kids a toy, we go to Toys R Us and we get them a $150-$200 toy, and we don’t think about it.”
Feed the Children sent a bunch of mail down (to Nicaragua). The envelopes were wrapped in rubber bands. The workers in Nicaragua emailed Feed the Children and said ‘thank you so much for all the toys.’ Well the staff emailed back and said ‘we didn’t send any toys.’ The workers in Nicaragua said ‘your rubber bands, the kids love the rubber bands.’ These kids loved rubber bands and they couldn’t get enough of them.”
If not for the live show that was looming, the time I spent talking with Jamie could have gone on and on.
While we were taping our podcast interview, a sound check for the band was underway. Darrin was on stage along with other members of the band checking the microphones and instruments and employing all kinds of crazy silliness in an attempt to distract Jamie and make him crack up. You can hear it all in the podcast interview at Artist2Artist with Lisa Jacobi. I encourage you to listen to the entire interview to hear Jamie discuss his musical relationship with Darrin and what makes it work. His pearls of wisdom are a quick study for any professional band or music pro. Also, he references a few of the many books that he relies on for inspiration, motivation and education. I’ve provided links to those resources below the podcast.
Thanks for reading, think about sharing this column with those who might enjoy learning more about Jamie Dailey. I’ll be back here at Bluegrass Today on the next full moon interviewing musical artist, lyricist and intellectual… Ron Block.
Until then, play nice on the planet. LxoJ