Talking forgiveness, family and music with country legend Darrin Vincent
Darrin Vincent, of Dailey & Vincent, is a father of four, husband of 25 years, and a country-music legend. He’s toured the world with his family as part of the Valley Mountain Show, played and performed with the likes of John Harper and Ricky Skaggs, and won five Grammy awards. A TV show he does with his family reaches over a million viewers each month and his corporate partnerships with Cracker Barrel and Springer Mountain Chicken Farms keep his tunes in constant circulation.
We recently caught up with Vincent, who along with his musical partner Jamie Dailey, will be performing in Rochester at the Mayo Civic Center this Friday night as part of the 2018-19 Riverside Concerts Presents series. What follows is an abridged transcript of my conversation with him.
MCB: What was the first instrument you picked up?
DV: At five years old, I was playing mandolin. At seven I was playing fiddle and stuff like that. It just kind of progressed as I got older.
MCB: Wow. I was expecting you to say the washboard or something.
DV: [laughter] No, not the washboard. Anyway, we both grew up playing, country music with our families. Old time country music and gospel.
MCB: Run me through some highlights.
DV: I think we’ve won like 73 awards, collectively with Doves [gospel music awards] and everything like that. But our biggest accomplishment was in 2017, we were the 213th members inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, the first family of country music. That was a huge honor for us. We were invited on our hundredth performance, on our 10th year anniversary at the Grand Ole Opry and it was really cool.
MCB: I mainly listen to rap and electronic music, so, to me, country and bluegrass sound kind of the same. Could you give me an idiot’s guide to telling the difference?
DV: The only difference between bluegrass and country is some of the lyrics’ content, of course, but the instruments, they’re more acoustically driven, with mandolin, fiddle, banjo, things like that, without a drum. Country music has more of a drum sound, the piano, things like that. More of a rhythm section. We do a lot more country than we do bluegrass, actually.
MCB: What do you think it is about country music that allows it to be a worldwide phenomenon?
DV: I think it’s the song lyric content. You go back to Patsy Cline, “I Fall to Pieces,” and of course Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” and the things he wrote, and all those songs really struck a chord with people... I like rap just as much, well, maybe not as much as you, but I enjoy electronic music. There’s an art to each form of music.
MCB: As a songwriter, what’s your bedrock of purpose?
DV: We like to keep it family-based. Always talking about love and a family-centered kind of thing. Your grandma and grandpa growing up in your hometown.
MCB: Gospel elements have been present ever since you picked up a mandolin at five, right?
DV: Yeah. Absolutely. I’ve been in church all my life ... I try to lift people up because there’s a lot of hurting people out there, and I just try to be a positive influence all I can. I try not beat anybody up with the way I feel.
MCB: I asked because I feel an entertainer’s role is to spread love and sort of be a salve to people’s wounds.
DV: I think both sides of the aisle can understand that.
MCB: Yeah. Everyone wants to hide away in some good music right now.
DV: Absolutely. I’m telling you. We don’t talk politics at all, we just don’t.
MCB: What’s a show like?
DV: We can take a crowd for an hour and a half, or two hours and we try to get them pumped up, and then we’ll sing some patriotic things or love songs, and bring back some memories in their lives of childhood, maybe. And when you’re doing all that, usually they cry ... at the same time, Jaime is really funny and we have a lot of comedy through our show. So we bring laughter and a lot of joy to people. It’s a fun night. Toward the end of the show we normally will honor our veterans with a a patriotic song. It’s not really politically driven for us, but it is for loving people and lifting them up. That’s really the common thread.
MCB: As someone who gets to spend a lot of time marinating in that idea, what are some uplifting behaviors you’d encourage people to practice?
DV: I practice this with my wife; she’s been a big influence on me. We’re too quick to judge people. People fall and they make mistakes, and they mess up. Why keep brow-beating them and pushing them down? There’s got to be a time you want to pick them up and love them and say, ‘Hey, let’s try to get up and let’s try to do better the next time.’ I think that’s what we need to do in this nation.
MCB: I couldn’t agree more. Is there anything I’ve failed to ask about that you’d like mentioned in this article?
DV: I would. We’re sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms Chicken out of the north Georgia. They have been a huge influence to keep country music in and bluegrass, and gospel and just roots music alive nationwide and around the world. I’d like you to mention them in there.
MCB: I meant to ask — you mentioned a partnership with Cracker Barrel earlier, how does that work, and were you guys innovators with corporate partnerships?
DV: That’s really the only store left going in the United States, that I know of, that sells CDs and DVDs on a mass amount ... Had it not been for them, I don’t think we would have been as popular and part of the Grand Ole Opry today without Cracker Barrel and Springer Mountain Chicken Farms.
MCB: That’s fascinating. I’ve talked to a lot of musicians lately and as the industry keeps hurtling toward all-streaming, it’s wild hearing how people continue to make a living at it.
DV: It’s hard ... It’s hard.
MCB: Well, thanks, on behalf of humanity. We’d be nowhere without musicians.
Dailey & Vincent will be performing Friday, October 12 at the Mayo Civic Center’s Presentation Hall. Ticket information is available here.
Bryan Lund is a freelance writer from Rochester. Fresh off a two-year stint on the editorial board at the Post Bulletin, he covers politics, art and gnarly feats of grace. Follow him on Twitter.
Published in partnership with Riverside Concerts