Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale: An Americana Dream Team?
I like to think that the new Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale album, Buddy and Jim, is entirely my fault. In June of 2011, my father and I visited Nashville for the first time and had the chance to see Jim perform on the Grand Ole Opry. At the time, Jim was celebrating the release of his bluegrass album Reason and Rhyme and did a meet-and-greet before the show to promote the album. Jim, in his traditional pink nudie suit, made quite an impression on me, and was kind enough to answer various questions we had for him. But what makes this conversation stand out for me was a question my father asked. My father, always looking for interesting things to inquire about, turned to Jim and asked him “Do you ever think about doing an album with Buddy Miller?”
Jim thought for a moment, and then replied, “You know, I would love to do an album with Buddy sometime. We’re both just so busy with other projects, but I would love to work with Buddy on an album sometime.” Now, over a year later, the collaborative album between the two Americana powerhouses is just around the corner. Regardless of whether or not my father and I were the ones that planted the seed for the new album, if the previous work of both artists is any indication, it promises to be a brilliant representation of what music coming out of Nashville ought to sound like.
On one hand, Buddy Miller has proven himself as a master instrumentalist, songwriter, and, more recently, producer. I was first introduced to Buddy’s music after being impressed by his work as an instrumentalist on Emmylou Harris’ 1998 live album Spyboy. Since the mid-1990’s, Buddy and his wife, Julie Miller, have produced a string of stellar albums, including my personal favorite, 2004’s Universal United House of Prayer, an atypical gospel album featuring some stellar originals, as well as some well-placed covers, such as Mark Heard’s “Worry Too Much.” In recent years, Buddy has worked with musicians like Robert Plant and Richard Thompson, showing that he truly is a versatile artist.
On the other hand, Jim Lauderdale has been equally prolific, especially as a songwriter and sideman, working with artists as diverse as Ralph Stanley, Robert Hunter, and Elvis Costello. But he has also made a name for himself as an artist in his own right, establishing himself as a key player in the Americana movement. The unique thing about Jim is that he often jumps back and forth between genres, dabbling in country, bluegrass, folk, and other traditional branches of American music.
Perhaps it’s the wide range of capabilities of both artists that has me so excited for this new release. Or, perhaps its the proven talent of both gentlemen that has left me in eager anticipation. Either way, I’m certain this will be an album I’ll be listening to over and over again.