The Time Jumpers is a band of sidemen. If you aren’t familiar with the word “sideman,” it’s a term for a musician that is either not a regular member of a band and or is not a featured member of a band. When you see Taylor Swift in concert, she has a band playing with her and everyone in it is a sideman, no matter how many solos they take or how many young girls might know their names. Being a sideman doesn’t mean inconsequential or unknown. James Burton was Elvis Presley’s sideman on guitar for years and he is still one of the most respected guitar players in the world. He doesn’t sing, he doesn’t front a band, but he has been recorded on hundreds of albums and is a member of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. There are dozens of artists that are equally famous.
Some of the members of The Time Jumpers are famous. Some are not. All are incredible musicians and are sought-after sidemen. They are the musicians that Nashville artists request when they have an album to record or are going out on tour. They all make lots of money doing what they do.
But a drawback to being a sideman is that a job is a job and, sometimes, the playing you do for pay isn’t the playing you would do for fun. A singer or a band leader can put together a band and direct it to perform the music of their vision. As a sideman, there is the limitation of finding like-minded friends that want to “play” from time-to-time.
Members of The Time Jumpers got together in 1998 and asked the Station Inn in Nashville if they could have Monday nights, a traditionally slow night for music even in a music town, to get together and perform and play the music that they all enjoyed playing–just for fun. It wasn’t long until the music lovers of the city crowded in to experience the best-of-the-best playing classic country standards and Western swing, experiencing the exuberance of trading solos and challenging themselves against Nashville’s elite. Soon, the stars of the city and beyond began dropping by to hear this top-notch band and to have the opportunity to perform with them: Bonnie Raitt, Robert Plant, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Norah Jones, Jimmy Buffett, and the White Stripes were a few that took the stage.
The goal of The Time Jumpers went no further than to drink beer and pick, but in 2007 they put out a live album called Jumpin’ Time. Their crowds continued to grow and they eventually acquiesced and moved their Monday night show to 3rd and Lindsley, a more spacious Nashville nightclub. The band had solidified to a nice 11-piece band with members who had to their credit recordings with hundreds of artists that pass through Nashville: from Ray Price to Carrie Underwood, even Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.
Now, finally, for those of us out here beyond the city limits of Nashville, The Time Jumpers have released a studio album. It’s not a studio album in the sense that each instrument and musician recorded their isolated tracks and the album was pieced together in layers (like most albums are recorded today). They recorded it with each player in a circle facing one another. No overdubs. No retakes. Though we may never set foot inside the nightclub where The Time Jumpers play, this is as close to live and real as it can get. With three (yes, three) fiddles, accordion, drums and bass, pedal steel, rhythm guitar, and two more guitars, plus multiple vocalists and backup vocalists, a stray note or a bit of a timing issue could be forgiven, but even a musician’s critical ear won’t hear a flaw on these 12 tracks.
I am not going to name the names of the members of The Time Jumpers. At least one would jump out at even the casual country music fan because of his Grammys and membership in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. But he isn’t part of The Time Jumpers to be the front man, the singer, or the star. He’s part of the band. A band where they are all sidemen (even though one is a woman). It’s an album for lovers of authentic country music and Western swing. No, it isn’t what you will hear on country radio in 2012, but listening to The Time Jumpers will make you believe you’ve jumped back to Bakersfield in 1947.
– Submitted by Janice Williams, Music Design