Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent recently celebrated the 10th anniversary of their highly successful musical partnership. They have gone to the top of the bluegrass world, and are now expanding into other markets in that short space of time.
Some of their recent projects include:
- a new all-original genre-crossing CD, Patriots & Poets coming March 31 on the Dreamlined label
- the 2nd season of their new & improved RFD TV show, which airs 7:30 Friday nights eastern time
- a Dailey & Vincent exhibit at IBMM in Owensboro, KY
- plans for the next LandFest
- plans for next year’s WaterFest
- and their monthly WSM Radio show
They were still riding high from a recent invitation to join the Grand Ole Opry. That’s where we started our conversation.
KD: I want to congratulate you on a number of things and we can talk about them in whatever order you want to take them. First of all for being together 10 years. A lot of bands…heck, a lot of marriages don’t last that long (laughter) so congratulations on that. Big, big, huge kudos to you on being invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry. I mean the pictures of you (Darrin), I thought you were going to fall down on the ground.
JD: He did fall down on the ground. When Marty Stuart extended the invitation… Is it OK to talk about this? We had been asked to come to the Grand Ole Opry and do a 30-minute segment, which isn’t done very often. The reason they said they were going to do that was to celebrate our 100th performance there, and our tenth year as Dailey & Vincent. We thought that was very kind of them. When we arrived backstage, Darrin and I were standing close together. I saw a boxed cake and I hit Darrin on the shoulder and I said, “I bet you that cake could be for us and I’ll bet you they’ll interrupt our show to celebrate our 10 years, light it up and everybody will snap some pictures or clap if they want to, and we’ll end the show and go home.” So we get out there and Carolyn Vincent, Darrin and Rhonda’s mother, is on stage with us. I invited my dad to come play with us because the Opry had told us to bring anyone you want to, and we did. We invited John Carter Cash and his lovely wife, Anna, and Marty Stuart. We had all sung and had a big time, and Darrin and I invited Marty Stuart to come out to sing.
We got around one microphone and we sang Rank Stranger, which was so fun to sing with Marty. When we finished I said, “Ladies and Gentlemen, that’s Marty Stuart here on the Grand Ole Opry.” He’s supposed to walk off but he didn’t. He grabbed a handheld mic and said, “Now wait a minute, boys. Before we leave here tonight we have a little business to take care of.” And I thought, “Ah! Here comes the cake!” I had it all figured out. He said, “Before we go any further, turn the house lights up, we have a lot of Dailey & Vincent family members in the audience.” And we’re thinking, no, we don’t. They hit the lights and all of our families stood up. Darrin had sent his wife to New York with his mother-in-law for a little vacation. That’s where they were supposed to be. I had called my mom and asked if she was coming and she said, “No, honey, I’m not going to be able to make it.” But there they all were, up in the balcony. And I thought, “Just for a cake and 10 years?”And Marty said, “You know gentlemen you have played the Grand Ole Opry 100 times. It’s obvious you’re not going to go home. You know one of country music’s most elite fraternities is that of the Grand Ole Opry. Country music loves you. Country music needs you and the Grand Ole Opry welcomes you to become a member of this family.” I’m getting emotional now. I turned around and Darrin’s on all fours, praying.
JD: You know that’s where we played our first paid tour date was at the Ryman Auditorium. And it was 10 years prior to that night, when we got invited. There was a lot of history that came home that night and a lot of emotions. Darrin and I are celebrating 10 years as a band. Darrin’s like a brother to me. We’ve been through a lot together. We’ve had a lot of challenges and some failures and some success. Through it all we’ve leaned on each other. We might be out there fighting battles but we’re leaning on each other and we lean on the good Lord above because Jesus Christ has blessed us tremendously (DV: Amen) and for us, that’s where the glory should go. It’s nothing that the two of us have done or are doing. It’s all through the Almighty Lord and we’re so very thankful for that.
KD: I think you fellows are very talented. I think you’re very smart. I think you’re fearless in some of the things you do. I mean there aren’t nets out there to catch you when you try new things. I remember ten years ago when you visited WAMU’s Bluegrass Country broadcast room in the Nashville’s Renaissance Hotel. The formation of Dailey & Vincent had just been announced to the world and you talked about your business plan. I’ve also heard you talk to Leadership Bluegrass about a business plan. That’s really what I see many bluegrass bands are missing. They can be good entertainers and musicians but they don’t have a plan, a North Star, by which to guide their careers. Can you tell us how many of your dreams were in that original business plan? How many came true? How many were a miss? Have you kept it going? Is it still there today?
JD: Absolutely, it is.When we first got ready to do this thing, I had sat down for over a year and worked meticulously and methodically working on a business plan. I would call Darrin and say, “This is what I think we need to do.”
KD: You were with Doyle (Lawson) and Darrin was with Ricky (Skaggs).
JD: Yes. I even got down to what I called an activation list. And the activation list was after the notices were given and after we had told Ricky and Doyle everything we were going to do. We hid nothing; we were very transparent about it. That I was going to activate the call list, which was calling promoters and saying, “Hey, we’re available for the next year. We’d like to book here, this is the money we’re going to go for.” That’s how we did it. We talked on the phone nightly about having a manager, a business manager, a record label, an attorney, a publicist. All these things needed to happen. At the same time for two years we started a bank account together and we started putting in $25 a week apiece, because that’s what we could afford to do. Sometimes we might put $100 a week in until we got up to a whole $1,300. (laughter)
KD: You can laugh about that but that was really a leap of faith.
JD: It was a leap of faith. I’ll never forget we went in to meet with our attorney, David Crow. We said draw up the paperwork as the “The Dailey Vincent Band, Incorporated.” So he drew that all up and guess what? That took $1,200 of the $1,300 we had saved. (laughter) The next week Ricky Skaggs and Doyle Lawson both were playing the Grand Ole Opry at the same time. So it just happens that Darrin and I are there together. Just standing around and Eddie Stubbs walks up. “Gentlemen, can I have a word with you?” I thought oh-oh, we’ve had it. I said, “Yes, sir.” He said, “Why are you naming it The Dailey Vincent Band?” We said, “We thought that was pretty cool.” “No, it’s not.” He said there are bands everywhere and he started naming them. The something-something band, the something-something band and he just went on and on. “Be Dailey and Vincent. You can hire whoever you want to hire and put around you but be Dailey and Vincent. You can have a band, you can have a 10-piece band but be Dailey and Vincent.” So the next week we called David (Crow). We went in and ripped up that $1,200 piece of work and we had a “Dailey and Vincent, Incorporated” drawn up. (laughter)
KD: Was it another $1,200?
DV: Yes, yes. Another $1,200. We had him start over.
KD: So far David (Crow) is making some good money on Dailey and Vincent. What were some of the goals you wanted to reach? Was it so many jobs a year? What else?
JD: It was. We wanted to hit 136 dates. When I went in to meet with Don Light, Darrin wasn’t in town. So I went in to meet Don Light and another agent, who I will not name. The agent was sitting at the desk and asked, “How many dates do you think you want to work the first year?” I said, “At least 100 to 115, if we can get it.” And he laughed at me. “And what kind of money do you think you can get for a date?” I told him and he laughed even harder. He said, “Son, you’re going to be out playing a lot of free supper dates and you’re going to get under half what you’re trying to ask for and laughed at me. I said, “Thank you all very much,” and I left.
I got on the phone and worked it even harder. I was on the phone lines 10 to 12 hours a day. I was going as hard as I could go. Then I started sending out contracts because they started booking us. Darrin was working on the record label stuff, talking with Ken Irwin. I was, too, but he was doing that end of it. About 6 months later I walked back into that same office with that same agent and Don Light sitting there and I had this calendar book with all these contracts. I had 86 of them for the money I said I would book them for, and more money than I said I would book them for. I slammed the book down on the desk and I said, “There you go. That’s 6 months’ worth. He looked at it and just looked dumbfounded. He started looking through it and asked, “These are contracted?” Then Don Light got the book and he had his glasses down over his nose and he said, “Damn. You’ve been busy.” He took it from there and wound up booking us right at 136 dates before we ever hit the first note.
That’s kind of how it came to be. We were also told early on by certain people that our business plan would not work. They said there’s no business plan that fits, no blueprint that would work. You all just have to go out and play free supper breaks and hit it. I couldn’t believe that this artist had told me that to be as successful as they were. And I thought, they’re way off base. We didn’t listen to that. We knew right then that we had to follow our intuition. We had prayed to the Lord to give us discernment, which he continues to do because we pray hard for that. We followed our hearts and followed our blueprint. Now there were failures and huge challenges…
KD: Do you mind speaking about those in a general way?
JD: Sure. Darrin will tell you about the fuel.
DV: Now this is not political. But Bush, under his presidency, fuel prices went up to $4.00 a gallon. When we were out on the bus, our overhead costs were more than we thought we could handle. We went home without money. The band was paid, everything was paid. Jamie and I didn’t get a nickel. There were a few weeks, where we’d already quit our jobs for a year, that we weren’t getting paid. The minute that the fuel prices dropped a dollar, because it’s 210 gallons of fuel, we were saving $100 a whack. That was a huge challenge right at the front, was the fuel for the bus. And the challenge of getting to and from was huge. And, of course, the hotel stays. Everything had skyrocketed and he had already contracted a year out so we were stuck. We weren’t getting any more money. Stretching our dollars to get to and from was really difficult.
JD: And then three years in we had a huge firm in Nashville that took care of our finances and our monies, payroll and taxes. Something didn’t feel right. I called the business manager who takes care of the monies and taxes and I told him that something just didn’t feel right, would you please run the numbers. I’m not going to go into detail about all of that. He ran the numbers and came back and said, “Everything’s fine.” I still didn’t believe it. I told Darrin something can’t be right because we had it coming in but it just wasn’t balancing out correctly.
About three weeks later we get a phone call: Come to the office ASAP. We went to the office and found that our money had been mismanaged to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars. We had to go to court. We fought for two years. Luckily we have one of the meanest attorneys in town outside of David Crow. Mr. Gino took care of us. Luckily he’s one of the meanest attorneys in town and one of the very best. We basically told him to use every and all means necessary to fire back and fire back hard. Get this taken care of. We had to go to court and the jury saw fit that justice was done. At that point it was all taken care of. We were awarded back the money. Over 2-1/2 years we fought that?
DV: Yeah, plus the IRS.
JD: Plus the IRS
DV: They had falsified IRS documents. So we had this IRS agent who came in and we basically said the firm has mishandled this. The Quickbooks show that it’s been paid. But they never sent the check in and shredded the check.
KD: And you’d written your signature on it?
JD: Yeah, I’d written my signature on it. I’d signed off on it but they never sent it. Shouldn’t you go after them? He said, “Yes, but you still owe it. And we don’t care, we just want the money. And we want it by first thing Monday morning. We’re talking about a good sum of money.
DV: That’s the worst Christmas ever.
JD: Then he said, “You’re going to write down everything you own, both of you, on this piece of paper and if you don’t have this to us by Monday we’re going to put liens on all of it.
KD: I’m scared and this didn’t happen to me!
DV: I cried, I tell you. I cried.
JD: We cried. It was a tough moment. On behalf of our new business manager because we had fired the old one and had one of the bigger guys come in, Mike Vaden, of The Vaden Group. He helped us secure the money to pay the IRS agent. But I think it was a testament to our business at the same time that we were able to maintain our operations. The band never lost a dime. Everyone around us was paid on time, every time through all of this, even from Day One. It was a testament to our business that it was able to withstand such a hit.
KD: One of the takeaways I’m hearing here is: You can’t hand your business over to other people and then just go out and sing and play. You have to be mindful of it all the time, checking on it…
JD: There are checks and balances that must be put in place. And even when you put checks and balances in place there can be mishaps. We don’t know any other way to check and balance things more than we do, though I will say we do check and balance even tighter now than we did before. You have to have these wonderful professional people. And don’t get me wrong. There are wonderful hard-working professionals around us who do take care of our business as if it were their own. And they do get paid for it. But you have to be very careful and watch everything around you and be mindful. And as I say, Darrin and I pray for discernment a lot.
DV: When something don’t feel right, you better be checking on it. We’ve hit the mark more time than we’ve missed. When you get the gut feeling that something ain’t right, you better be looking at it and checking it twice.
KD: You don’t only have the responsibility to yourselves, you have the families of how many people in your band out there who are relying on you.
DV: They’re just who you see. We have people behind the scenes who have families, too. We have about 14 people on our payroll that rely on every dime that we bring in. So it’s a huge responsibility.
JD: That’s before you even get to the bus and the mechanics and things like that…
KD: Oh my! So of the original business plan and the goals you wanted to reach… was becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry in there? What about awards? I was in the house the night you swept the IBMA awards – everything but female vocalist. I remember Del saying, “They didn’t leave nothing for nobody.” (laughter) Since then, I think you have 35 IBMA awards and I don’t know how many Dove awards. Were all of those in your plan or were they just side things?
JD: They were side notes. First of all, you don’t play and sing for the awards. You do the playing and singing for the art of it and for the love of it. So as a side note we hoped we could win some of those and it would be great. If not, we’re going to keep doing what we do. We’ve always wanted to win a Grammy. We have not but we have had 3 Grammy nominations across 3 genres – bluegrass, mainstream country and Gospel. That’s still a goal that we would like to win one of those. I had a dream since childhood to have a television show. I had written the whole thing three or four years prior to actually getting to talk seriously about it. It came through and we’re very thankful for that.
DV: And the radio show on WSM every month
KD: Nothing better than radio.
DV: That was an objective we had wanted to hit. We sit down and have a business meeting once a year with all of our team and figure out what the objectives are for the year that we want to hit. A new record was one for this year. We want to be on a bigger tour for 2018. Trying to find new partners to work with. It’s all part of the plan. It’s up to us to find hard ticket venues to try to play. That’s been one of our long-term objectives to get our own dates and promote our own dates for our business because it’s a hard ticket sale to go back year after year or take a year off.
KD: I forgot to mention speaking of festivals…LandFest.
DV: Landfest! That was a big thing Zac Koffler our manager said. You need a WaterFest and a LandFest. Those are two of our biggest money makers of the year for us. We’re going to be moving to Hiawassee, Georgia this year to the Georgia Mountain Fair. It’s almost 3,000 seats inside, rain or shine. WaterFest next year will be back out with the Time-Life Country Music cruise again. Just got off the boat a week ago. What fun it was with 1,800 people. About 1/3 of the people had seen us, two-thirds had never seen us.
JD: And about 1/3 of that probably never wanted to see us again! (laughter)
DV: That’s not right. We gained new fans again who want to come see bluegrass and acoustic music.
KD: You’re bringing a great variety of experience and talent to the table to be ambassadors for bluegrass music.
JD: Katy, we’re living in the most interdependent age in history. That means that things that we do here can affect people in other countries half a world away. The world is so big and so reachable now. The borders are more like nets than walls. We can reach more people. It’s a bigger audience now. It’s out there. You just have to reach them. We’re working very hard to do that. We try to alter our music and our show in a way that it reaches a little something for everybody. Not just one genre base; not just one style. It’s several different things that we do in a show. For us personally, and we’re not saying any other group should do this, or that rock solid it’s the only way to do it. For Dailey & Vincent it became the best way for us to do our business and to try to grow our career and I’m so glad we have done it the way we have. I’m not being braggadocious. But for Darrin and me and our band, we’re so thankful to get to do it the way we want to do it.
It comes down for us to making the very best music that we can make and do the very best show that we can possibly do and then let the ticket buyers decide if it’s something they want to come back and see. If not, it doesn’t offend us. Luckily, we have a lot of people who continue to come see us and it seems to be growing.
We’re not being too big for our britches as some might say. We’re only here for a little while and it’s our job as entertainers when we hit the stage we have to know that there are people in the audience who might be sick, have cancer. They might be going through a divorce, they might have money troubles. They may have just gotten fired. Anything could be happening in their lives. There could be people in this audience tonight who are fighting troubles.
It’s our job as entertainers to take them on a 90-minute ride that’ll make them forget their troubles and put smiles on their faces. We want to send them out the door feeling better than they did when they came in. For me and Darrin it’s more than just genre based. It more than, “You can’t do this musically. You can’t do it that way.” It is about human beings and helping them feel better, trying to make their lives better and to give them a positive outlook. That’s what music should do. It should touch you to the core and move you. That’s what we’re trying to do.
KD: OK. Having just heard this inspirational answer, I hope you will put into your plan a podcast. You write beautifully and you have interesting things to say and a point of view that you don’t hear all the time. As organized as you are, it wouldn’t take you very long to put a new song in a podcast or an old song and a story about it. That’s how people are listening to things now. It’s not just on terrestrial or satellite radio.
JD: That’s a wonderful idea. I’ve never thought of it. Thank you. (chuckle) We’ve never thought of that. Leave it up to a Daley/Dailey.
KD: Any other goals for the year?
JD: Just to make the best music that we can possibly make. To try to make people laugh. Laughter right now is so very important. We need to make people laugh and enjoy themselves. And spread a positive message of love and the Lord. For me, that is my ultimate goal. I think Darrin feels that way as well.
KD: I’m holding up your sound check and your dinner. I appreciate your spending time with me.
JD & DV: Thank you, Katy.