Cayamo 2012: Thursday Dispatch
Buddy Miller. Is there a gentler badass on the planet? He’s a benevolent king of Americana/alt-country, honorary captain of Cayamo, bandleader, session master, I could go on and on. But with all of this, he rarely plays a show of his own. That’s because he’s too busy making everybody else look good or sound good or record well or collaborating on projects like Majestic Silver Strings or Band Of Joy. On the Cayamo cruise, however, he gets headliner treatment. Which, of course, he uses as a further opportunity to collaborate with great musicians while doing his best to make sure each set is unique, just in case some of us get to see him more than once.
Last night, we saw Miller play about an hour with a band that included Greg Leisz, David Jacques, Brady Blade, Joel Guzman, Regina McCrary and Jim Lauderdale. And what a show. Some of the songs on the setlist: Let It Be Me, Why Baby Why, The Race Is On, She Thinks I Still Care, Your Poison Love, Halfway Down (a song that Lauderdale wrote years ago in Holland while on tour with Emmylou), Hole In My Head (a co-write by Miller and Lauderdale recorded by The Dixie Chicks) and Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go. The set closed with That Lucky Old Sun. And all that was over by 7:00 p.m.
Still ahead of us when Miller’s show concluded was Shawn Mullins set on the pool deck, Lucinda Williams in the main theatre, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion in the Atrium and a late-night sing around that included Rhett Miller, Angie Aparo, Jim Lauderdale, Edwin McCain and Joe Purdy. And there was a helluva lot going on that we didn’t get to see.
I think that I’m correct in saying that Mullins is the only performer to have made all five Cayamo cruises, and you can feel the love when he plays. He obviously likes being here, and the Cayamo family is really glad to have him. At the end of his set he brought Chuck Cannon on to help out with Papa Was A Rolling Stone, just about the time the Norwegian Pearl pulled away from the dock headed to St. Barts.
At 10 we were back in the main theatre with another packed house watching Lucinda Williams. She sounded great, though I’d have to say that after watching Buddy Miller’s interactions with the other musicians and the crowd, she seemed less the gracious star and bit more of the diva. Still, it was our first time to see her live and it was great to hear her do Real Live Bleeding Fingers, Drunken Angel, Crescent City, Change The Locks, Joy and Get Right With God performed live. Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale and Rhett Miller made appearances, too, though Miller’s appearance was a bit strange at first because she called him out one song early. He’s a good sport, so he grabbed a tambourine and danced around a bit as she did Joy while waiting for Get Right, the song he was supposed to sing backup on.
After taking in part of Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion’s set, we were back in the main theatre at midnight for a sing around with Rhett Miller, Angie Aparo, Joe Purdy, Edwin McCain and Jim Lauderdale. We saw everyone sing one song, which underscored the diversity and similarity of these talented artists. The stories behind the songs were worth staying up late – for example, Rhett Miller told how he wrote Champaign Illinois by reworking the lyrics to Desolation Row, a Dylan tune, to stay awake while driving the Old 97’s tour van in the middle of the night and how he later got Dylan’s blessing to record the song. We wanted to stay for the end of the sing around but we were tired, so we headed to the cabin to rest up for St. Barts and more music on Friday, including another Buddy Miller set.