Western swing and iconic Seventies rock collided onstage Monday night as the Time Jumpers’ Vince Gill traded guitar licks with former James Gang and Eagles member Joe Walsh at Nashville’s 3rd and Lindsley. While impromptu jam sessions have become a trademark of the weekly Time Jumpers gigs, it’s a rare treat for audiences to be entertained by members of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame simultaneously.
Walsh, clad in jeans, flannel shirt and ball cap, asked Gill at the outset, “Is it OK if I don’t have a tractor?” After letting out a hearty laugh, Gill told the crowd, “Watch this.” The self-effacing Walsh introduced the 1970 barn-burner “Funk #49,” a staple of classic album-rock radio, by saying, “If I’d have known I was going to have to play this next song for the rest of my life, I would have wrote something else.”
With the rest of the Time Jumpers backing him on their traditional instruments, including fiddle and steel guitar, Walsh took his weathered voice to the limit throughout, but his still-dazzling guitar-playing – and Gill’s obvious discipleship – were the real showpieces of this unexpected and exhilarating collaboration.
The Time Jumpers are among the country acts to receive multiple Grammy nods this year, earning two nominations for Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album. “Kid Sister,” Gill’s heart-touching tribute to late band member Dawn Sears served as the title track of the group’s LP released earlier this year.