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Bluegrass Band Likes Its Heavy Awards Metal

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, January 23, 2009

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Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out may be a bluegrass band, but they know how to handle heavy metal, too. As in trophies.

The Georgia-based quintet boasts a résumé of more than 50 music industry awards since forming in 1991, including seven consecutive years as Vocal Group of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Moore, meanwhile, is a two-time winner of the IBMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year prize.

Moore says with a laugh that he and his bandmates “just try to keep the dust off ” their awards. But he adds that being one of bluegrass’ most decorated acts only creates a standard that IIIrd Tyme feels charged to maintain.

“It really hasn’t changed the idea that we’ve always had,” explains Moore, 45, “that we want to come out of and do the best that we can and give the people that are listening to us the best music we can possibly play. We’re very connected to our fans, our audience, and we keep that relationship open because if it were not for them, we couldn’t do what we do.

“And we don’t forget that. If they want to award us for something that we’re doing, that’s fine. We love it and we’ll take it ... but it’s the icing on the cake. It really is. It’s not going to change anything in what we’re doing day in or day out, but it is absolutely wonderful to be recognized for something you love and enjoy doing to begin with.”

During their 18 years together, Moore and IIIrd Tyme have released 14 albums, including two compilations and a Christmas collection.

The group is strongly rooted in the traditions of Bill Monroe and other bluegrass pioneers, but, Moore notes, “we’re also influenced by, gosh, so many other musics and genres.” And the band allows those influences to creep into its sound.

That’s occasionally put IIIrd Tyme in a defensive position, Moore acknowledges. “We did a cover, an a cappella version, of (the) Platters’ ‘Only You,’ and, of course, there were people who said, ‘That’s not bluegrass! You shouldn’t be doing that!’ But there were more people that embraced it and enjoyed it. It’s become one of the most requested songs throughout the years that we’ve ever had.

“You’re not going to please everybody all the time. We know that. We just do what feels right to us and hope our fans feel the same way.”

One thing IIIrd Tyme and its followers are on the same page about these days is it’s been too long since the group released an album of new music — since “The Best Durn Ride” in 2004. But Moore says the group has been in the studio this month and plans to have an album finished in time for the summer and its prolific lineup of high-profile festivals.

“It’s been five years since the last studio recording, so we’ve got a lot of people that are really looking forward to this,” Moore says, “not only the fans but also the (radio) DJs are wanting something from us that comes from the studio. And we’re ready to put something new out, too.

“So we’re working really hard at trying to get this one out just as soon as possible. We’re overdue.”

If you go

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday (Jan. 23) at the Oakland Community College Bluegrass Concert Series in the Lila Jones-Johnson Theater on the Royal Oak campus, 739 S. Washington Ave. Tickets are $20. Call 248-942-3244 or visit www.oaklandcc.edu.

Web Site: www.oaklandcc.edu

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