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Fifteen minutes with Vince Gill

John Benson • Nov 5, 2010 at 9:36 AM

As a favor to his ice-skating friend, country music star Vince Gill will be providing the live entertainment at the 11th annual “An Evening with Scott Hamilton and Friends” ice show and gala, which takes place Nov. 6 at Quicken Loans Arena. The event, which raises funds for The Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative (Cancer Alliance for Research, Education and Survivorship) at the Cleveland Clinic, features the 51-year-old Olympic gold medalist, who survived testicular cancer and a benign brain tumor. Also on the bill are notable skaters Kristi Yamaguchi, Dorothy Hamill, Evan Lysacek, Sasha Cohen and more.

 Gill, who is married to contemporary Christian artist Amy Grant, is making a special one-off trip to Northeast Ohio to be a part of the fundraiser. Funcoast talked to the Country Music Hall of Fame member (who has more than 26 million albums sold with 18 CMA Awards and 19 Grammy Awards to his credit) about his upcoming Northeast Ohio appearance, his next studio project and his future career as a stand-up comedian.

Funcoast: Why are you coming to Cleveland to be a part of “An Evening with Scott

Hamilton and Friends?”

Vince Gill: It’s strictly for Scott. He’s a buddy of mine since he moved to Nashville. The funny part is I never knew for the longest time that they were going to skate to my show. I just thought it was a fundraiser and were going to come play. So I said, “That’s cool” and he said, “We need a set list.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Well, so people can figure out what to skate to.” I said “What?” So, this will be a first for me. I said to him, “You’re kind of hiring a hillbilly jam band. Some of those skaters can really suffer if we keep going out there with a 10-minute jam at the end of a tune.”

FC: Maybe a surprise 20-minute version of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is in order?

VG: (laughs) No, we wouldn’t be so cruel.

FC: What was it about a cancer research benefit that made you accept Hamilton’s request?

VG: I just think at the end of the day, everybody has an event or charity that they’re passionate about and what Scott has been through the last stretch of time even makes it more special and a reason to do it. I’ve always felt like when your friends have something they’re passionate about and they ask you to come out, you should do it. It’s just that simple. It’s an ugly thing in our world. Amy’s father was an oncologist his whole career, so it speaks to everybody. Also, it’s beautiful to see the skaters on the ice. I’m a hockey freak and love watching it, but it’s amazing to me what these people can do on these thin razor blades.

FC: What exactly can you do on the ice?

VG: Just fall.

FC: Your last studio album “These Days,” which featured guest appearances by Del McCoury, Sheryl Crow and Bonnie Raitt, came out in 2006. When will your fans hear something new?

VG: I’m almost finished and I would assume it will be out maybe March or April of next year. This album is a little bit more about some of these songs. The last one I wanted a lot of different people on it because I thought it would help make it more interesting. What I like most about this record is the songs are very different from anything I did on the last record. It’s a collection of songs that even now in hindsight, they have more depth and meaning.

FC: Sounds like a more mature effort.

VG: You should write different songs at age 53 than you should at age 23. Life is different. Townes Van Zandt said, “There’s really only two kinds of music: the blues and ‘Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah.’” So it’s a whole lot less “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah” in the latter years, I guess.

FC: Finally, your concerts not only feature your music but plenty of funny stories and jokes. Perhaps you could make it one day as a stand-up comedian?

VG: Yeah, I’m just a frustrated smartass.

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