Russell Moore asks, "Have you seen our website lately? It's had a bit of an overhaul with new photos and a new look. Check it out at www.IIIrdTymeOut.com!" The new site features new images, music samples, and is a great update for 2014. Always charging forward, creative and entertaining, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out have a new image on the web for fans to keep track of what the band is up to and where they'll be performing.
“Playing music is the easy part,” says Russell Moore with an ever-so-slightly rueful laugh as he looks back on more than thirty years of doing what he grew up wanting to do. “By the time we put this band together”—he’s talking about IIIrd Tyme Out, his musical vehicle for over twenty years now—“I was realistic enough to know that bands come and go. Being able to stay together is the hurdle that everyone faces. So I didn’t have a preconceived notion that someday I’d be celebrating twenty years with IIIrd Tyme Out—but I did feel like I would be playing music for the rest of my life.”
As it turns out, while many bands have come and gone since that May in 1991, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out have endured. In the process, they’ve managed to climb to the top not just once, but twice—winning a slew of IBMA vocal awards, including two Male Vocalist of the Year honors, in the mid and late 1990s, then persevering through rough times to see Moore recapturing the Male Vocalist trophy for the past three years. Along the way, they’ve made a whole new generation of fans, and with the release of Timeless Hits From The Past... Bluegrassed by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, the quintet are poised to deliver their distinctive kind of music more widely than ever.
The quintet’s latest release, Timeless Hits From The Past...Bluegrassed, is one of the first fruits of the quintet’s latest business relationship, as Moonstruck Management’s Peter Keiser alerted them to Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s plans for another bluegrass album. “Had it not been for Moonstruck, that wouldn’t have happened,” Moore notes. “When they came back to us, Cracker Barrel wanted to know if we had a concept, so we started discussing themes. We started off thinking about a George Jones tribute, but I felt that we were leaving out too many great artists and great songs—and once we went to the more general idea, we had room not just for the country stuff that’s helped to shape who we are, but some of the key songs of IIIrd Tyme Out that have shaped us, too. And then, when [Alison Krauss & Union Station’s] Barry Bales offered to help us, it was like a light bulb went on. I thought, maybe it’s time that we did bring someone in from outside the band to put an ear and thumbprint on it, make it the best it could possibly be. It’s something different for us, and it really worked out well.”
The new project has plenty of nods to classic country in vintage numbers like “Mama Tried,” “Farewell Party” and “Golden Ring” (which features a stunning Moore duet with gospel sensation Sonya Isaacs), but there are some surprises, too. “’Modern Day Bonnie & Clyde,’ that one’s kind of different,” Moore notes with a chuckle. “It’s more rock-influenced. But Travis Tritt’s record had some killer dobro on it, and he’s a banjo player, so there were some ties,” he adds. Similarly, he calls Don Williams’ “Tulsa Time” another change of pace. “I’m not playing any kind of bluegrass rhythm on that, but it wasn’t tough to do; I’ve messed around with that kind of stuff for years. And that particular song, we’ve messed around with it backstage, just having fun.”
Yet there’s room, too, as Moore notes, for a couple of key songs from Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out’s own past. Their arrangement of the doo-wop classic, “Only You”—a song that has brought audiences to its feet for well over a decade—gets a few new twists, and an all-time favorite, “John & Mary,” gets a new lease on life with some help from country chanteuse Pam Tillis. Add it all up, factor in an appearance on Billboard’s list of the 15 best-selling bluegrass albums for 2013, and the future is looking very bright for Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out. Indeed, if one measure of success is the degree to which younger and newer musicians look to a group for inspiration, then IIIrd Tyme Out is about as successful as a bluegrass group can be, for a whole generation of young pickers and singers can be heard across the country trying their hand at IIIrd Tyme Out classics. “It’s one of the greatest compliments you could ever have,” Moore acknowledges. “It’s humbling to know that they think that much of what we’re doing—and sometimes it makes you think wow, we really are making a difference. People are taking notice.
“All the awards, all the recognition, those things are just by - products of doing what we love to do — and of having everybody pulling in the same direction. So to get them is a little overwhelming, sometimes. But when you know that somebody else out there is getting something from you because of your music, well, that’s the thing about music that got me into it — just the love of the music, and the way it made me feel. It always has been therapeutic, and it still is — and you can’t ask for than that.”