One of the many ways that Dailey and Vincent have distinguished themselves as true greats within the realm of bluegrass music is by bringing their sparkling harmonies and stellar musical ensemble everywhere. Lubbock, Texas is hardly a modern mecca across music but the downtown venue on the famous Buddy Holly Avenue is distinguishing itself in bringing a heady roster of performers and songwriters to its stage, such as Rodney Crowell and the Bacon Brothers for upcoming shows. Notable local artists are also warmly welcomed to its stage.

Dailey and Vincent offered a double-header of musical delight at the Cactus Theater on Sunday, August 11. Jamie Dailey, Darrin Vincent, and their talented band performed afternoon and evening show at the friendly and accommodating venue. There was a capacity crowd filling the floor seats and the balcony of the friendly and accommodating locale for the afternoon. The bluegrass masters did their best to deliver a “Sunday go-to-meeting’” song-fest from their stage for those who missed morning services, but threw in a little contrary Merle Haggard and 70s classic Eagles to go with the sonic feast.

Better than ever

Fans were delighted to hear and see Jamie Dailey in fine spirits and vocal form. A few weeks back, the singer and songwriter was sidelined for a few shows for what he imagined was vocal cord issues. Thorough examination revealed no nodules or structural damage whatsoever. Some neck muscle damage has been the true culprit to the duo’s namesake. Darrin Vincent declared that Dailey “has never sung better” than at this point in full recovery.

The singer proved that point with an essentially a cappella opening to Willie Nelson's “Always on My Mind,” followed by the rest of the song in flawless fashion.

Later, Dailey did explain that he was cutting back on fan-mingling usually done after shows to cut down on the strain from talking and conversation,” joking that, “I could still talk to that wall all night.” He knows better now.

The high spirits soared higher as the full complement of collected artists on stage combined on “Cumberland River,” the sparkling bluegrass song that brought a huge following to Dailey and Vincent on the debut album in 2009. The performance was even more satisfying than the recorded version, with locked-in harmonies, superb banjo, and of course, Vincent’s steady bass keeping time.

Sacred, smooth, stern and still smiling

Dailey and Vincent themselves are the first to espouse the talents of the acclaimed musicians around them above their own abilities. Throughout the show, Patrick McAvinue provided interludes as both a bluegrass fiddler and a fine violinist, being classically trained. He never made a fuss about his lanky frame being made the brunt of some good-natured jokes, either. The virtuoso lets his strings do the talking, and has fun with the rest.

Pianist and vocalist, Blaine Johnson set a sacred tone with “Lord, I’m Coming Home,” and tenor, Josh Cobb, did another Gaither standard, “He Touched Me,” with a reprise for the crowd.

The whole ensemble sang a rousing rendition of “Noah Found Grace in the Eyes of the Lord,” to vibrating stomps and claps, and the traditional spiritual got a repeated verse, too. Cobb takes the prize for holding an amazingly long high note.

Dobro artist, Gaven Largent, got his spotlight moment, giving an exquisite, pristine “Amazing Grace.”

Roguish, golden bass vocalist, Aaron McCune had his usual fun with Jamie Dailey on the Statler Brothers’ “Small, Small World,” but took a sterner tone in a patriotic nod to veterans in the audience with “Merle Haggard's “The Fightin’ Side of Me.”

Guitarist Shaun Richardson was one of the objects of Aaron McCune’s humor from the stage but the young player got serious respect for his lightning speed in perfect accompaniment and his solo turn on “Peaceful, Easy Feeling.” Dailey and Vincent make no apologies for drawing from a vast range of artists and musical eras.

Purists may find their acceptance and embrace problematic, while fans find it very satisfying.

Willie Nelson was applauded in the encore, as Jamie Dailey explained the back story of “Family Bible,” written by the outlaw-country icon. “I love Willie Nelson,” Dailey reiterated, adding that he realized there were a lot of “judgmental people” in some realms of roots music. He described working in the studio with Nelson, and the mutual appreciation and respect between the artists. Rather than rest on their shelves of IBMA awards and Grand Ole Opry member status, they stretch themselves within the band and with collaborations.

Music is meant to dissolve barriers and magnify unity in the common struggles shared by humankind. Those sentiments have been the same since the first beats of a drum set to voices. This Sunday afternoon left everyone smiling and remembering that we all have a sacred light inside.

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