On a sunny March afternoon, Dailey & Vincent's Jamie Dailey was participating in a radio interview with WNKX in Centerville, Tenn. One of the first conversations he had with the media after the duo was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on March 11, the singer said he was taken aback when he heard the introduction: "Grand Ole Opry members Dailey & Vincent."
"It takes my breath when people say that," Dailey tells Billboard. "It makes me tear up. I'm not used to hearing that. I don't know if the new will ever wear off. We are so honored and blessed to become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry."
The road which led to he and Darrin Vincent becoming members of the cast took about 10 years -- and 100 appearances. It was on that milestone evening in December that Marty Stuart officially extended the invitation that the two had been waiting for.
"We have always wanted to be members of the Grand Ole Opry, but we kind of came to the realization that maybe we weren't the right act for them," Dailey says. "We kind of gave up on it, and thought that we would just play it every time they let us, and enjoy it, and be proud to even be invited in the back door. But, when Marty invited us, we were shocked and floored. We couldn't have found the back door if we had twelve hands. Steve Buchanan, Sally Williams, Dan Rogers, and Gina Keltner have all been so wonderful to us, and we appreciate them very much."
The duo released their eighth studio album, Patriots & Poets, Friday (March 31). Dailey stresses that the group painted outside of its usual lines on the set, though longtime fans shouldn't be too concerned.
"It is different, but the good thing is that we've been doing songs on stage from the new album for about three months, and we've gotten great feedback from the fans," he says. "We wanted to write our first original album, and that's what we did. This album has some country, some bluegrass, some contemporary folk songs, and some gospel songs on it."
One of the biggest departures on the album is "No Place Love Won't Go." In talking about the song, Dailey said, "I was wanting to write something that was a little more edgy sounding, and I called my neighbor Karen Staley and our good friend Jimmy Fortune. They came to my house, and we started writing. ... We wanted to write something that was positive, and something that would help people if they were having a bad day."
One cut on Patriots & Poets that will be of special interest is "California," which features a cameo appearance from Steve Martin. Dailey says hearing the legendary actor and musician on the album is something he hasn't quite gotten used to yet.
"I grew up being a big fan of his, and when we first met him ten years ago and became friends with him, it was a dream come true. I never imagined that he would actually come and act on an album of ours," he says.
"When we wrote the song, I had written the melody with B.J. Cherryholmes and Shaun Richardson, I had written some of the words, but I didn't finish it. We were so busy with touring and the TV show. So, I sent it to Karen, and I told her to make it funny, and have a talking part at the end where the guy is talking to his ex-girlfriend. I went in, and tried to do the talking part, and I couldn't make it funny to save my life. Darrin called Steve to see if he would do it for us, and he so graciously agreed to come in and act on the song. I never dreamed I would get to be on an album with Steve Martin."
Vincent echoes those sentiments, saying, "Steve Martin is kind and generous, not to mention a gifted musician, writer and actor. I sent Steve a text asking if he would record a speaking part on a song for our upcoming album. I sent it via internet, and Jamie and I sent a video text explaining our vision, Steve sent three different versions to pick from. I did a few edits and what you hear is what we all loved. We appreciate him more than we can ever say for making 'California' one of our favorite songs from the album."
It's not all progressive sounds on the album, as evidenced by the old-time gospel feel of "God's Love," which includes an appearance from Dailey's former employer, Doyle Lawson.
"We had boarded a plane to go on tour in Europe, and our first stop was in Switzerland for five days. It was the early hours of the morning, and everyone was asleep on the plane. I had this melody hit me, and the words came to me pretty quickly. I had the song written by the time we touched down. We started rehearsing it that night at one of the shows. It was so cool to have Doyle come in on it. The song is very much old-style, kind of like what I would have done when I was with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. That's why we had him come in and play mandolin on it. I'm so glad he did."
Besides the album, and a long list of tour dates on the books, the duo is also proud of their weekly RFD-TV series, which continues into 2017 with sponsorship provided from Springer Mountain Farms.
As far as the learning curve the duo gained from hosting the show, Dailey says, "There are so many. We know so many more things now that we didn't know then. It was really a crash course. We know how to make it better than it is now. Our goal is to make it better going forward."