Beginning with a set of new songs from their album, Buddy & Jim, they performed with high energy. As they tour in support of their new collaborative CD simply titled, Buddy & Jim, they are obviously out for a good time with old friends. At one point during the show, Lauderdale acknowledged his debt to L.A’s country elder-statesman, Ronnie Mack, who helped give the two musicians their start at his legendary Barn Dance at the Palomino club in North Hollywood twenty years ago. The show felt like a homecoming for the two friends. Los Angeles was a key part of their musical journey.
During the middle of the two-hour set, Lauderdale and the band left the stage. Buddy Miller then launched solo into “Fall on the Rock,” “Shelter Me,” and “Wide River To Cross,” which had the feel of an anguished blues-poet in the tradition of Blind Willie Johnson. Without resorting to guitar pyro-technical tricks his guitar and voice were covered in song. Whether it was secular or sacred, it was all music of the soul. He came about as close to Jimi Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughn as possible in country music. It was stunning set, well performed and heartfelt. As he walked off the stage, it seemed as though he left smoke and ashes behind.
Rather than trying to follow Miller’s performance, Lauderdale wisely opened with a new love song that brought the audience into his trance. It was just the right way to follow Miller. He then went back into his catalog included classic songs like “King of Broken Hearts.”
During the final set they returned to material from Buddy & Jim and finished the show with an encore of the Everly Brother’s “Let It Be Me,” and the 50’s influenced, “The Wobble.” As they left the stage, a job well-done, what was most evident was how, when two powerfully talented artists operate in friendship rather than ego, the best in country music becomes a source of energy and passion as powerful as any rap or rock music that is usually favored in the mainstream.