The Time Jumpers, featuring Vince Gill, will perform some Texas swing and Nashville bluegrass when it closes the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights summer
The Time Jumpers, featuring Vince Gill, will perform some Texas swing and Nashville bluegrass when it closes the St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights summer concerts at Deer Valley on Aug. 30. (Jim McGuire)
The Park City Institute will wrap up its St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Nights summer concerts at Deer Valley on Aug. 30 with a big swing.

Some of Nashville's best studio musicians — accordionist and keyboardist Jeff Taylor, bassist Brad Albin, fiddle players Larry Franklin, Kenny Sears and Joe Spivey, steel guitarist Paul Franklin, acoustic guitarist "Ranger Doug" Green, electric guitarist Andy Reiss, drummer Billy Thomas, vocalist Dawn Sears and electric guitarist Vince Gill — collectively known as the Time Jumpers, will play their own blend of Texas-flavored swing, bluegrass and country jazz.

Yes, the lineup includes Vince Gill, said Taylor during a phone interview from Nashville, Tennessee.

"I mean, we're coming to Utah because we have Vince Gill in the band," Taylor said with a laugh. "I don't mind saying that, and I know nobody else in the band would mind saying that, except for Vince.

"When he joined the band, he came in and wanted to be just a member of the band, and that's all he has ever been," the accordionist said with another chuckle. "Kidding aside, if we were going to try to tour the Time Jumpers, in spite of our two Grammy nominations, we could not make enough money on the road to justify getting our butts out of Nashville, away from the lucrative work we do here. But you add a superstar into the mix like Vince Gill, it can be done."

Unfortunately, Dawn Sears is fighting cancer and isn't able to tour.


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"She's a tough lady and a beautiful singer and we wish her the best," Taylor said.

The Time Jumpers' origin is one of Music City, U.S.A.'s folk legends, and Taylor was there from the beginning.

"It spontaneously combusted in 1998," he said. "Some guys got together to play swing music on a regular basis in one of the dressing rooms of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, we met in dressing room No. 6, which was Jimmy C. Newman's room."

Taylor was the pianist for Newman, who passed away in June.

Time Jumpers accordionist Jeff Taylor, who has performed with Ricky Skaggs and Elvis Costello, is one of the original members of the band, which started in
Time Jumpers accordionist Jeff Taylor, who has performed with Ricky Skaggs and Elvis Costello, is one of the original members of the band, which started in one of the Grand Ole Opry's dressing rooms. (Jim McGuire)
He and Kenny Sears, who was the emcee and violinist for Newman's band, would spearhead some of the jams.

"[Jimmy] was an amazing man and a gentleman and he put up with us jamming in his dressing room incessantly," Taylor remembered. "When you play the Opry, you just play a few songs a night with an artist, if you were paying attention. You would run out and play your spot and then play two or three songs in the dressing rooms.

"It's a joyous thing and we had no agenda, except to blow off steam and play music that we love, by people that we love for people that we love," he said.

The boys would participate in the dressing-room jams until the Opry security kicked them out.

"On Saturdays the Opry would play music until midnight and they would come around at 12:30 and say, 'Boys, you can't sleep here,'" Taylor said.

To keep the jamming momentum going, a former Time Jumper, Hoot Hester, who was the guy who led the charge, talked to J.T. Gray, the owner at the Station Inn club, and asked if he'd be willing to open on Monday and feature a Western swing band.

"And that's how things got started," Taylor said.

The name of the band came about during a recording session.

"The person who was singing in the vocal booth skipped a beat and the whole band went with him," Taylor said. "That's when Hoot said, 'we come from a long line of time jumpers' and the bassist at the time, Dennis Crough said, 'that would be a great name for a band.'"

There is another reason the band is called the Time Jumpers.

"When you hear us you're to a degree jumping back in time, because we play music that pays tribute to Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys and that whole thing that was happening into the 1940s," Taylor explained. "We also play some big-band stuff, but instead of saxophones and trumpets, we have fiddles and accordions."

Taylor, a classically trained pianist, was an accordionist in his father's band, but also played jazz.

"I was in a cool band when I was younger and we played Western swing and Southern rock," he said. "One night I decided to play accordion, because I had to catch a flight for a mission trip the next day and I didn't want to deal with the hassle of loading the piano in and out of the venue the night before. And it stuck."

Throughout his career, Taylor has performed on albums with Ricky Skaggs and toured with Elvis Costello.

"I'm fortunate to carve a niche in Nashville by playing accordion, because there are a ton of piano players and there are only a few accordion players," he said.

Taylor returned to playing a little piano when Gill joined the Time Jumpers a few yeas ago.

"We moved from the Station Inn to the larger 3rd and Lindsley club, which turned out to be a cool gig on Monday night," Taylor said. "When we made the move Kenny called and said a few of the band, including Vince, wanted to know if I wouldn't mind playing piano on some of the stuff."

"I was all for it, because I saw how good it had been for my accordion career," Taylor said. "I'm now I'm getting more calls for piano when people find out."

Taylor is grateful for the band because he is challenged to become a better musician.

"I'm sitting in the middle of a band that is made from a bunch of my heroes," he said. "I can honestly say everyone in the band would say that and we're all indebted to the collective unit for the type of musician it has shaped each of us.

"Even people who know Vince well have said he has become a better player since he joined Time Jumpers and I say, 'Well, I'm glad he's getting something out of it, because he has given so much to the band,'" Taylor said with a laugh. "Honestly, for my money, Vince is the best to come out of Nashville who is the whole package. On top of that, he's nicer than you wish he was. His wife Amy [Grant] is like that, too. When I say he brings a lot to the band, it goes deeper than his superstardom. He's a true friend and it's a great thing."

The Park City Institute will present Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers for the final 2014 St. Regis Big Stars, Bright Night summer concert at Deer Valley on Saturday, Aug. 30. The music will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets are $45 and available by visiting www.bigstarsbrightnightsconcerts.org .