Inductee 2015

Tim Graves

Tim Graves:  A Working Musician

Hall of Greats Induction Speech

By Daryl Mosley

Tim Graves chose the dobro the way EVERY OTHER DOBRO PLAYER player for generations chosen it. He heard 'that sound'. That sliding, metallic, musical expression of passion that emanated from the soul of a man called 'Uncle'. The fact that Josh Graves WAS Tim's uncle was secondary in that experience. Because Tim didn't just hear the SOUND of the dobro, he heard the CALL of it. Early on, Tim knew that he had found more than just an instrument of self expression. He had found a partner.  For Tim Graves, the resophonic guitar is his brush to paint on life's canvas, his skeleton key to the world's door, and his constant companion on the journey of life. Now, 40 years later, the journey has brought him here.


Tim Graves is not just a musician. Tim is a WORKING musician. Next to the instrument itself, Tim's favorite sound is the hum of the wheels on the highway. I've never known anyone, with the possible exception of Willie Nelson, who loves the road as much as Tim does. His first miles were logged in the late 1970's with a local band call 'Cedar Run' and then with Bobby Smith and the Boys from Shiloh. He started picking up speed with his own band, Cherokee, and by 1982 was working 7 days a week at the World's Fair in Knoxville, Tennessee. Then... in December of 1983...Nashville came calling. The great Wilma Lee Cooper wanted Tim as one of her Clinch Mountain Clan. For the next 13 years, Tim and his dobro were staples in her touring band as well as on the most famous stage in music: The Grand Ole Opry.


It was in the early 1990s,while touring with New Tradition, that I first met Tim. We began a friendship that has lasted nearly a quarter of a century. We also started making plans to, one day, work together. That day finally came in 2001 when Tim and I became part of what would be the last band of the legendary Osborne Brothers. For 10 years, we traveled coast to coast with Bobby and Sonny, and with Bobby after Sonny's retirement. 10 marvelous years of playing, singing, watching and learning from masters. It was there... appropriately... on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville that June Saturday in 2011 that Tim and I made the decision to start a new band. Our OWN band. And soon we broke ground on the what was to become The Farm Hands.


From the beginning, Tim faced the challenges of the music industry fearlessly. When he needed a bus, he bought one. When he needed a driver, he became one. Tim has been record producer, booking agent, road manager, band leader, musical arranger, and a dozen other things when it became necessary to keep working. Yet today, Tim will tell you that his most importance job is that of student. Learning from his own mistakes and failures, seeking the council of others who have been there before, and doing everything he can to make the next record, the next performance, the next dobro break, better than the last one.


Throughout his 40 year career, Tim has amassed an impressive list of accomplishments. He's played on a Grammy award winning album and performed on some of America's most elite venues and stages. The list of artists that Tim has recorded with reads like a 'who's who in Bluegrass History.' The fans of the music, through this SPBGMA organization, have named Tim Graves their favorite dobro player 10 times. Yet, perhaps his most impressive accomplishment through the years is Tim's remarkable commitment to the work itself. In an industry where musicians and bands regularly come and go, Tim is Lou Gerhig. He is Cal Ripken and Brett Farve. As a band leader or side man, concert after concert, record after record, year after year, Tim has always answered the bell. He has always been, and remains, driven to bring his music, OUR music, to the people in towns big and small across America.


Tonight is a night Tim will never forget, a milestone on this journey most musicians can only dream of. Tonight he will enjoy the fruits of this 40 year adventure. But, rest assured, tomorrow Tim Graves will be back on a highway somewhere, on the way to somewhere, to give the people there a piece of his heart. Because that's what Tim Graves does. That's who he is. And why I am honored to introduce the 2015 inductee into bluegrass music's Preservation Hall of Greats, my friend Tim Graves.