(for HVBA) It’s hard to be a Dailey and Vincent fan because they can be so unabashedly shameless. Where other bluegrass musicians grew up wanting to be like Bill, or Earl, or Doc, these guys grew up wanting to be the Statler Brothers. When I first saw them live I was turned off pretty much instantly by the pure geekiness and showiness of it all. On stage they are less people than they are Muppets.
Which is too bad, because they are truly great singers and can craft a song beautifully. They won me over when they released Brothers of the Highway in 2013. It’s a fantastic album, and it made me reconsider the one before it, Brothers from Different Mothers, which actually is pretty good too. When they came out with their tribute to the Statler Brothers I was enough of a fan to say, ok, that’s fine, it’s good for what it is.
This live album was recorded in Manassas, Virginia, but it comes, conceptually, straight out of Branson, MO. Glitter, rhinestones, bright lights, corny jokes. The instrumentation is way over the top, an orchestra adding soporific strings to four of the tracks, and soporific piano pretty much everywhere else. Their love for the Statlers is given another airing in “Elizabeth,” though other tracks are arranged to sound like the Statlers. “American Pride” is meant as a patriotic song, and it achieves it in the way that truck commercials do, by being artless and shallow. They play the same card in “Til They Come Home” about soldiers returning from overseas. People will applaud these songs because they’ll feel they have to, not necessarily because they want to. Dailey and Vincent are going for ovations through the easiest routes, and no doubt they’ll get them, though the applause will be as shallow as the songs.
It seems that they’ve got their sights on Vegas, and, clearly—and I think regrettably—they’re headed in the right direction. But if you’re a fan of bluegrass, and moved more by stories than by showmanship, you’re probably not going to be a fan of Alive! In Concert.