When The New York Daily News last February wrote about a coming Big Apple show by Nashville, Tenn.,-based singers/songwriters Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale the headline read:
“Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale: The kings of Americana music unite at last”
That tells you why Augusta-area blues, country and Americana music fans are mighty lucky to have the chance to see these two “kings” perform together at the 20th annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival on Saturday, May 18. Gates open at 11 a.m. at the festival site on Stagecoach Road in Thomson and music starts at noon. Tickets are $25 in advance from tixonline.com or $35 at the gate.
Miller was supposed to perform at the 2009 festival but had to cancel because of triple bypass heart surgery. Lauderdale took his place.
The two will be performing songs off their 11-songs New West CD Buddy & Jim released last December. It marks the first time the two have done a duet album in spite of the fact they have known each other more than 30 years.
The Daily News headline was not entirely correct because actually the two met in New York City in the early 1980s when the city got into a country music craze following the John Travolta hit movie Urban Cowboy.
Miller moved to New York City from Austin, Texas, and Lauderdale moved there from Nashville. They met at a nightclub where Miller played regularly. Lauderdale would drop by often to see Miller perform, and Miller often would invite Lauderdale to come up on stage and play.
They began writing songs together beginning with Hole in My Head, later recorded by the Dixie Chicks on the trio’s hit album Fly.
Both Lauderdale from Statesville, N.C., and Miller from Fairborn, Ohio, are internationally recognized for their songwriting, singing and work on albums of other music stars.
Miller produced R&B singer Solomon Burke’s 2006 country music album Nashville in a recording studio at Miller’s Nashville-area home with Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Gillian Welch and Dolly Parton supplying their talents as duet partners.
He toured as lead guitarist and backing vocalist for Harris, Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin, Linda Ronstadt and others; co-produced and performed on Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s 2000 album Endless Night; performed on Robert Plant’s Raising Sand and Band of Joy tours; was part of the band for John Fogerty’s The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again tour and produced Patty Griffin’s Downtown Church CD, which won a Grammy Award in 2011 for Best Traditional Gospel Album.
Besides being known for his own accomplishments, Miller also is known for the many recordings he has made with his wife, Julie. They married in 1981 and first recorded together with Ron Krueger in a trio called Streetlight, releasing the album Streetlight in 1983. But Buddy and Julie did not get around to making a duo album until recording Buddy and Julie Miller, released in 2001.
Lauderdale has won two Grammys for Bluegrass Album of the Year; in 2003 for working with Ralph Stanley on the Lost in the Lonesome Pines CD and in 2008 for his own CD The Bluegrass Diaries.
Lauderdale has written or co-written songs including George Strait’s Where the Sidewalk Ends (featured in the movie Pure Country); Patty Loveless’ Halfway Down and You Don’t Seem To Miss Me; Gary Allan’s Wake Up Screaming; Mark Chesnutt’s Gonna Get a Life; Vince Gill’s Sparkle; and Mandy Barnett’s debut single Planet of Love.
He also has worked with Elvis Costello on Costello’s 2009 Grammy-nominated CD Secret, Profane & Sugarcane and Costello’s 2010 CD National Ransom.
In 2001, Lauderdale portrayed country superstar George Jones in the original stage production of Stand By Your Man: The Tammy Wynette Story.
Jones and his wife, Nancy, took Lauderdale out to dinner the night before the play opened in Nashville. They told him they wouldn’t be at the opening night show because they were going on tour. But at intermission the next night Lauderdale was told that George and Nancy had slipped into the balcony so as not to make him nervous.
For more about these two, see jimlauderdale.com and buddymiller.com.