Three blocks removed from Nashville’s famed Music Row, a little road house known as the Station Inn hosts a packed house every Monday night to witness a group of eleven seasoned studio pros join together on a journey back in time.
The band, appropriately known as The Time Jumpers, performs songs from days gone by – compositions deeply rooted in
history. The songs may be old, but The Time Jumpers play them with a passion and precision that makes them sound every bit as fresh and vital, if not more so, than any new music being written today. Americana
The Time Jumpers formed in 1998, when several of the regulars at the Grand Ole Opry jammed back stage in Jimmy C. Newman’s dressing room (#6). Initially, the band consisted of Hoot Hester, Michael Blaustone, Danny Parks, and Dennis Crouch. Sole remaining original member, Crouch recalls the early days of the band fondly, “When we first got together, we were just jamming backstage at the Opry while we were waiting to go on stage and perform with other artists. It was great jamming with Hoot, so we decided to start playing out in public.”
To round out their lineup, the band invited Andy Reiss, Aubrey Haynie, Kenny Malone, Johnny Cox, and Robert Bowlin to join, and soon thereafter they found a home at the Station Inn. While Monday nights are traditionally slow, it did not take long for word to spread that many of Nashville’s most in-demand studio players were now performing live, and soon the crowds begin to expand. With band members spending their days in the studios recording with some of the biggest names in the music industry, their audience often consists of a who’s who in the music world. On any given Monday night, you never know who is likely to be sitting across the table at the Station Inn, or joining the band on stage. Recent guests have included Robert Plant, Jimmy Buffett, The White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Reba Mc
The Time Jumpers roster has changed over the years, with Rick Vanaugh taking Malone’s place on drums, and Kenny Sears taking over for Bowlin on fiddle and vocals. The band has continued to add new members, including female vocalists Carolyn Martin and Dawn Sears, as well as pedal steel maestro Paul Franklin, who plays the sweetest steel this side of heaven.
Franklin, who first began performing with the band as a substitute for John Huey, has been an official Jumper for just over a year. One of the most in demand session players in
“The first night we played the Opry,” Franklin recalls, “when we looked over in the wings and saw they were full with other musicians watching, everyone realized this is more than just a jam band, that there is a real credibility to what we are doing. I’d played at the Opry with other artists over the years, but to see
Asked to elaborate on his “jam band” comment,
The crowds flocking to the Station Inn come expecting to hear many of their favorite older songs, tracks that we’ve all grown up with such as “Route 66,” “All of Me,” “Roly Poly,” “Sweet Memories,” and “Honeysuckle Rose,” as well as a healthy dose of the originals the band continues to write. Asked to comment on the band’s choice of material from days long since gone, drummer Rick Vanaugh jokes, “We know all the dead ones, and if they are sick, we are working on them.”
Of the many memorable pieces of music the band has written, one of the most exciting tracks is “Jumpin’ Time,” a song brought to the Jumpers by Jeff Taylor.
“That’s a fun tune that I wrote for our first record,” says Taylor, who plays accordion. “I wrote it with a skipped beat, initially thinking it would be funny, because we are called the Time Jumpers. So I wrote a song missing a beat in the head. I am glad we are still playing it.”
While the best music often defies labels,
“If you took the notes everybody plays, wrote it out and had horns play it, it would sound like a jazz band. If you analyze the music, chords, and notes, it is not country music. We just start playing a song, and then it arranges itself on stage. It is like you get out on the edge of what you know, and start trying to find your way back.
If history is any indicator, The Time Jumpers will be having fun on stage for many years to come. After all, their timeless tunes will never go out of style, and no one knows what will unfold from one Monday to the next.
It’s been said that there is but six degrees of separation between you and anyone else in the world. When stepping back in time with The Time Jumpers, it seems as though you are never more than one or two notes away from the hearing the next great jam, or from seeing one of music’s biggest stars jump right up from the chair next to you to join in the fun on stage. If you love classic American music, played by artists displaying nothing short of extreme virtuosity, then head on over to the Station Inn one Monday night and you too, can be swinging to the sounds of
The Time Jumpers are:
Andy Reiss – A native of
Aubrey Haynie – This two time winner of the
Carolyn Martin – One of two female vocalists in the band, Carolyn joined the Time Jumpers in 1999. She was recently honored by the
Dawn Sears – Best known as the Grammy winning featured female vocalist for Vince Gill, Dawn has also recorded on her own, and tours with husband, fellow Jumper Kenny Sears.
Dennis Crouch – The lone remaining original member of the band; Dennis was recently nominated by the
Jeff Taylor – This multi-instrumentalist has recorded with Amy Grant,
Joe Spivey – When founding Jumper Hoot Hester left the band in 2004, Joe was asked to become a Time Jumper. An Academy of Country Music nominee for the best fiddler, Joe has been performing with John Anderson since 1986, and has recorded with artists such as Merle Haggard, Shania Twain, Faith Hill, Kris Kristofferson, Joan Baez, and Hank Williams Jr, to name a few.
Kenny Sears – The band’s defacto leader (he makes out the set list each night); Kenny has been playing professionally since age 11. A classically trained violinist, he spent his early career playing swing with Billy Gray. He moved to
Paul Franklin – The
Ranger Doug – A true veteran of the music scene, Ranger Doug toured with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys while in college in late 1960s. He later formed Riders in the Sky, a band that has played nearly 10,000 shows since November of 1977, recording 35 albums, making over 200 national TV appearances, three television series, named Western Music Association
Rick Vanaugh – The band’s drummer moved to