In more than 30 years as a band leader, Lawson has seen more than a few musicians learn the ropes in his organization, and then move on to launch their own careers in bluegrass.
A look at the top drawing acts headlining the 2009 festivals bears this out. Singers Russell Moore, Steve Gulley and Jamie Dailey all came to prominence singing for Doyle. Jim Mills and Scott Vestal’s banjo picking likewise were first featured nationally touring with Lawson.
In fact, two existing bands, IIIrd Tyme Out and Mountain Heart, got their start when the founding members decamped en masse from Quicksilver.
But each time the band gets a new look, Doyle wishes them well, and finds strong new players and singers to keep moving forward.
“I learned a long time ago that changes would be a part of this business. When we first got together as Quicksilver, we knew that we wouldn’t always be together – somebody was always going to leave. And I don’t harbor any ill will. When they leave, I wish them the best.
Changes occur – nothing you can do about that, but with each change, I try to always have the best possible show I can for the people who follow my music.
It gives me a sense of pride when I see these guys go on to succeed on their own. I have freely shared my knowledge with the people who have worked for me. I know which ones really paid attention, and which ones didn’t. When I see somebody come through who did pay attention – like I did as a young man playing with Jimmy Martin, JD Crowe and The Country Gentlemen – I’m never surprised when they find success.”
Doyle says that rehearsals are going very well, and that he is very pleased with the sound of his latest group. Banjo player Joey Cox, resonator guitarist Josh Swift and bass man Carl White are still on board, with fiddler Jason Barie and guitarist Darren McGuire hopping on the bus for the first time this weekend for shows in Ashland and Prestonburg, KY.
Barie had been working with Larry Stephenson, and had toured prior to that with Carolina Road and Bobby Osborne. He had auditioned once before for Doyle, but that job didn’t come his way. Lawson keeps track of the people he might need some day, and reached out to Jason not long ago.
“I was at home with my kids the day that Doyle called. When I woke up that morning I couldn’t have guessed that Doyle would call me. In fact I didn’t even know that the fiddle job was available. I figured my day at home with the kids would just be a normal one. I was completely surprised by it all.
My first audition with Doyle was in 2001. I had just moved away from Florida to live in North Carolina. My biggest draw back in that audition was not knowing much of his material. The same was true in my second audition, but Doyle just had me play a few fiddle tunes and a few of his songs.
I was a nervous wreck. After all, second chances like this don’t come around too often, if they come around at all. I am thankful for this opportunity. It is huge for me and my family in more ways than one.
Taking this job is bittersweet for me, though. I left the Larry Stephenson Band to be in Doyle’s band. Working for Larry and traveling with the guys in his band was a lot of fun. It was a great experience, so I was sad to leave, but I am excited about getting to play in Doyle’s band. I sort of feel like I did when I was learning to play the fiddle, everything was exciting and new to me. I have that feeling once again. I am looking forward to playing Doyle’s music, expanding my horizons, and learning from one of the best teachers in the business.”
McGuire has been knocking around bluegrass for some time as a singer and songwriter, and was involved with side projects for Dwight McCall and a new Nashville-based band called Lonesome Heirs. The Heirs did occasional shows around da ‘Ville with Jeremy Garrett (Infamous Stringdusters) on fiddle, Jesse Brock (Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper) on mandolin, Andy Falco (Infamous Stringdusters) on guitar, Ned Luerecki (Sirius-XM) on banjo, Jon Weisberger (Lonesome Standard Time) on bass and McGuire on guitar/vocals.
Weisberger, a Nashville songwriter, session player and bluegrass journalist, has known Darren for some time, and featured McGuire on his If This Road Could Talk CD in 2008. Jon shared a few details about Darren, which show how perserverence pays off in the music world.
“Darren’s originally from southwest Ohio, and I first met him there in the early/mid 90s. He and banjo player Wes Pettenger put together a band called High Tymes, and they released one album, First Flight, on Mid-Knight Records back in 1997 that included the first recording of Darren’s Raining The Blues. I don’t think they got very far in the business, and the band folded up; I know he took a swing at putting at least one more band together after that, but again, nothing much came of it.
At the beginning of 2003, Dwight McCall put together a kind of side project band called Miami Road to play a weekly gig at a club in Middletown, OH, and that group included myself, Randy Pollard on fiddle, a good banjo picker named Ronnie Stewart (different one), and Darren.
I had to drop out after a few months, but I think that carried on for a while, and then Darren moved to western Kentucky, in maybe 2004 or 2005. He called me not long after the move, and started coming down to picking parties here in Nashville every once in a while. At SPBGMA in 2007, Jeremy Garrett and I spent some time jamming with Darren, and thought it would be cool to put something together that would showcase his singing a little bit, and that became the Lonesome Heirs; we played a couple of shows at the Station Inn that year, and then I used the group on my album in early 200
Pretty much everyone who’s heard him has been knocked out by his singing.”
You can check out a live recording of Darren singing Raining The Blues with The Lonesome Heirs on their MySpace page. If the song seems familiar, it was a radio hit for NewFound Road, who recorded it on their Somewhere Between CD.
You can also hear clips of McGuire from Weisberger’s CD on his MySpace page. Darren sings lead on Losing Again and At The Bottom Again, and tenor on When She’s By My Side.
Doyle said that the band is rehearsing some more this week, and will hit the stage this weekend with the new band for the first time. You can see their 2009 schedule online for a chance to catch them near you.
“I guess the music business is no different than any other occupation; change is part of everything you do. As far as me and my group, over 30 years, there have been quite a lot of changes. And after the years have past, here we are.
I just try to keep my foot in the past, my mind in the present, and my eye on the future.”