Archive for the Buddy Miller Category

Weekend YouTube: Buddy Miller

Posted in Buddy Miller on October 17, 2010 by AmericanaPulse

Let’s take a few moments here to appreciate the talents of Mr. Buddy Miller.

Patty Griffin: Downtown Church

Posted in Buddy Miller, Patty Griffin on February 3, 2010 by AmericanaPulse
Patty Griffin has always had the voice of an angel. Whether accompanied by the simple strums of an acoustic guitar as on her debut album Living with Ghosts or soaring over the complex arrangements of her more richly produced later catalogue, her voice has always been the defining element of her sound. And it’s always been heavenly. It’s only fitting now that Patty is lending her voice to a collection of gospel and gospel inspired tunes on her new CD, Downtown Church.

For this album, Patty teamed with ultra talented Buddy Miller as her producer. Buddy leads Patty through a set of 14 tracks including two originals, several hymns and gospel standards, and tunes written by Hank Williams and Leiber & Stoller among others. The production is an important element here. Most of the time when I think of a straight gospel record, I think of something austere and… well… bland. That’s not the case here. Patty and Buddy never let you get the sense that you’ve heard this all before.

Much like Buddy’s own gospel album, Universal United House of Prayer (the 2005 Americana Album of the Year), the music is the primary focus. Patty’s regular guitarist and bandleader Doug Lancio leads a wonderful group of players that is primarily composed of members of the Raising Sand (Alison Krauss & Robert Plant) touring band. Add to that guest vocals from Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Jim Lauderdale, Raul Malo, Mike Farris, Buddy & Julie Miller, and Regina & Ann McCrary.

With their help, songs like “Move Up,” “If I Had My Way,” and “I Smell a Rat” shuffle along with a definite purpose and a danceable country-blues shuffle. Even the old standby “Wade in the Water” is made to pop with a resonantly thumping stand up bass line and understated electric guitars. There’s plenty here to keep the ear of listeners who would never attend a Sunday service.
That’s not to say there aren’t some Sunday morning sounds present. “Never Grow Old” is a song I heard nearly every Sunday in the small town Freewill Baptist church where I was raised, and it’s performed with great reverence here. The album closing “All Creatures of Our God & King” is a beautifully sombre hymn that is effective with only Patty and a piano carrying the tune. It serves as an effective alter call at the end of the service.
The album is granted even more authenticity when you learn that Patty recorded the majority of her vocals while standing in the pulpit of the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Nashville. The 160-year-old church provided the perfect backdrop for this project and helped to infuse it with the spiritual trueness that an album like this needs.
Here are two tracks from the album… “Move Up” and “Never Grow Old.” Both are traditional gospel tunes, but are presented in differing styles here. The Staples Singers inspired “Move Up” serves as a solid contrast to the more stoic “Never Grow Old.” These two songs provide a good feel for the different styles and influences present on Downtown Church, and showcase why this album is such a compelling listen.
Patty Griffin: Move Up (Buy Album)
Patty Griffin: Never Grow Old (Buy Album)

Americana Award Winners & Other Notes

Posted in Americana Music Awards 09, BettySoo, Buddy and Julie Miller, Buddy Miller, Gurf Morlix, Justin Townes Earle, Patty Griffin, Porterdavis on September 18, 2009 by AmericanaPulse

***Well… The results are in from last night’s Americana Honors and Awards Show, and the winners are Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller, Buddy Miller, Gurf Morlix, and Justin Townes Earle.

Obviously, Buddy was the big winner on the night. He walked away with wins for “Artist of the Year,” “Duo/Group of the Year” with his wife Julie Miller, “Album of the Year” for Written in Chalk (also with Julie), and “Song of the Year” for his duet with Patty Griffin called “Chalk.”
With his four wins last night, Buddy now has nine Americana Music Awards to his credit. He has two previous wins in the album category for Buddy & Julie Miller in 2002 and Universal United House of Prayer in 2005. He’s also a two-time winner of the instrumentalist award and was honored in the song category for “Worry too Much” in 2005. It’s quite the impressive resume.
The other two award winners, Morlix and Earle, both were presented with their first Americana trophies. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Morlix took home the “Instrumentalist of the Year” award while Earle was honored with the “Best New/Emerging Aritst” trophy.
***Speaking of Gurf Morlix… Thanks to A Truer Sound for introducing me to Asian-American Americana songwriter BettySoo. BettySoo hails from Texas, and her latest album Heat Sin Water Skin features Morlix as a player and producer. You can read about BettySoo… and watch some videos… over at A Truer Sound, or stream and purchase the album here. You can also stream most of her entire catalogue on her website. She’s worth checking out.
***One more Morlix related note… Be on the lookout for my first ever CD giveaway contest sometime next week. I have an autographed copy of the debut studio album from Porterdavis to send somebody’s way. Morlix produced the album, and it sounds great. Look for info on the giveaway (and interview/performance audio from the band) on Monday.
***Finally, a couple of loyal readers of this site were featured recently on CNN, and I think that’s pretty cool.
I was first introduced to Steve and Jill Kaufmann when I was the host of Americana Crossroads at Morehead State Public Radio. They started listening to the show from their home in Lexington, KY and would send in the occasional e-mail when they heard something they really liked. We lost touch when I moved to Knoxville, but reconnected a while back through the blogosphere when I noticed I was receiving some traffic to this site from a blog called Off the Grid and On the Map.
As it turns out… the Kaufmanns had quit their jobs, sold their house, bought a van, and embarked on a long term driving tour of North America… and they were blogging about it. They would listen to WDVX over the internet on their travels and had tracked me down through that. Pretty soon, I was getting e-mails from them in the studio at work… only now the messages were coming from Mexico and California instead of Lexington. I started following their travels on their website, and I guess I wasn’t the only one as Steve and Jill were recently featured on CNN.com.
In honor of Jill & Steve’s Excellent Adventure, here’s a song dedicated to them from the one and only Johnny Cash.
Johnny Cash: I’ve Been Everywhere (Buy Album)

Americana Music Awards: Past Album of the Year Winners

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Buddy and Julie Miller, Buddy Miller, James McMurtry, Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, Patty Griffin on September 17, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

If you’ve been reading this blog at all, then you know that the Americana Music Honors and Awards Show will be held tomorrow night in Nashville and will be broadcast live on XM Radio’s X-Country channel beginning at 8:oo Eastern Time. This is just one more post celebrating the event and its past winners. I’ve written about most of this year’s nominees over the past month or so. You can read those posts here… a few of the songs have expired, but most of them are still there.

Anyway… today we’ll take a look at the recordings that have been honored as Album of the Year at past awards shows.

2002:
Buddy & Julie Miller from Buddy & Julie Miler
Buddy & Julie Miller: The River’s Gonna Run (Buy Album)

Buddy Miller is the most nominated artist in the history of the awards, and this was his first win. This album is a fine collection of duets with his wife Julie Miller. In fact, it was Julie’s unique voices (both her singing and songwriting voices) that initially drew me in to this album, and it has become one of my favorites. The song I’m sharing here is the first song I heard from the album, and the first time I heard Julie’s voice.

2003:
American IV: The Man Comes Around from Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash: Give My Love to Rose (Buy Album)

Johnny Cash swept all the major awards this year, winning Artist, Album, and Song of the Year. Johnny’s late career collaborations with producer Rick Rubin are among some of my favorite Cash recordings, and he was well deserving of winning at the 2003 awards. This is a re-recording one of Cash’s classic songs.

2004:
Van Lear Rose from Loretta Lynn
Loretta Lynn: Portland, Oregon (Buy Album)

2004 was my first Americana Music Conference and the first time I got to attend the Awards Show. I was so excited because Loretta Lynn was nominated for three awards, and I just knew that she would be there and I would have the chance to meet her. She is from my hometown, but I’ve never had the chance to see her in person. Lynn won for Artist and Album of the Year, but accepted her awards via videotape… she was out on the road. Nevertheless… Van Lear Rose is an amazing album, that despite some new-school production from Jack White, is purely classic Loretta Lynn.

2005:
Universal United House of Prayer from Buddy Miller
Buddy Miller: With God on Our Side (Buy Album)

Buddy was the big winner in 2005… taking Album and Song of the Year honors. Universal United House of Prayer is a country-soul study on faith and religion that spoke directly to the souls of award voters. The album was released just as the 2004 Americana Conference was being held, and the highlight of the entire 2004 conference was Buddy’s performance of Bob Dylan’s “With God on Our Side” at The Mercy Lounge. More than a few people were moved to tears listening to this thirty-year-old song that sounded as though it had been ripped from the headlines of the day.

2006:
Childish Things from James McMurtry
James McMurtry: Childish Things (Buy Album)

I still remember listening to this album for the first time and falling in love with it immediately. Above all else, James McMurtry is a storyteller… likely a trait he gets from his father, novelist Larry McMurtry. The stories on this album are about family vacations, young men preparing for war, a country losing its way, and just general tales about coming of age. The title track is one of those coming of age stories about the things we keep with us as we grow older, and the things we must leave behind. By the way, I think we all know someone like Aunt Clara from this song… I know I do.

2007:
Children Running Through from Patty Griffin
Patty Griffin: Heavenly Day (Buy Album)

I have seen it written that this album is Patty Griffin’s masterpiece. While I love each and every one of her albums and recommend each of them as “must own” records… it is hard to disagree with the previous statement. Children Running Through finds Patty equally at ease with the wisful folk ballad “Trapeze” as she is with the acoustic rocker “No Bad News.” There are even some hints of jazz and R&B in “Stay on the Ride.” The song I’ve offered up here, “Heavenly Day,” was nominated for Song of the Year. Patty says it’s a love song written to her dog.

Americana Music Awards: Past Song of the Year winners

Posted in Americana Music Awards, Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, James McMurtry, Jim Lauderdale, Johnny Cash, Ralph Stanley, Rodney Crowell on September 15, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

The Americana Music Honors and Awards show is this Thursday night in Nashville at the historic Ryman Auditorium. I have gone through most of the nominees and honorees at this year’s event in this space over the last month or so. As we lead up to the event this week, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the previous winners.

Today… song of the year.

2002:

Jim Lauderdale & Ralph Stanley: She’s Looking at Me (Buy Album)

For the first year of the award, voters chose a perfect blend of old and new. Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley joins songwriter Jim Lauderdale, an artist known for preserving old-time sounds while updating them for new audiences, on a fun little bluegrass romp, “She’s Looking at Me.” The album, Lost in the Lonesome Pines, won a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album in 2002.

2003:

Johnny Cash: Hurt (Buy Album)

Last week’s theme at Star Maker Machine was “Johns,” and poster, Autopsy IV, put up this track for a Johnny Cash post. As he says in his post, I really believe history will remember this as a Johnny Cash song… not a Nine Inch Nails song. Watching the video makes this song that much more heartbreaking.

2004:

Rodney Crowell: Fate’s Right Hand (Buy Album)

I’ve posted this song before, and it is one of my favorites. Rodney takes us through a stream of consciousness rant against several of society’s ills. Sex, drugs, disasters, murder, Ken Star, womanizing, government excess, global warming, and war are all covered in just over five minutes.

2005:

Buddy Miller: Worry too Much (Buy Album)

Written by the late Mark Heard, this is the leadoff track to Buddy’s gospel-soul flavored album, Universal United House of Prayer. The Steeldrivers’ Tammy Rogers plays fiddle on the track with sisters Ann and Regina McCrary providing backing vocals straight out of a Sunday morning service.

2006:

James McMurtry: We Can’t Make it Here (Buy Album)

Here’s another one I’ve posted before. This song just becomes more and more true every time I hear it. From the factory workers who’ve seen their jobs sent overseas, to the veterans living on the streets, to the pregnant teen cast aside by society… We can’t make it here anymore.

2007:

Darrell Scott: Hank Williams’ Ghost (Buy Album)

I first heard this song at the 2005 Americana Music Conference as part of a panel where new music was played for DJ’s and radio programmers as a sort of focus group. We all immediately fell in love with the song, and it received the highest ratings of anything we heard that day. No surprise it picked up this award two years later.

Friday Top 5: Buddy Miller

Posted in Buddy Miller, Top 5 on September 12, 2008 by AmericanaPulse

This week’s subject on the Friday Top 5 is none other than singer/songwriter/producer/guitarist, Buddy Miller. Buddy celebrated a birthday last weekend. Earlier this year, he celebrated being named Aritst of the Decade by No Depression magazine. Later this month, he’ll serve once again as leader of the house band at the Americana Honors and Awards show in Nashville. He is, afterall, the most nominated performer in the history of those awards.

Buddy Miller has worked with many different artists in many different capacities during the course of his career. He’s played in bands with Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Gurf Morlix, and Alison Krauss & Robert Plant. He’s produced albums for Solomon Burke, Allison Moorer, and Jimmie Dale Gilmore and played or sang on albums from Levon Helm, Kasey Chambers, Lori McKenna, Frank Black, The Chieftains, Trisha Yearwood, and Lee Ann Womack (to name a few). His songs have been recorded by Womack, The Dixie Chicks, Jim Lauderdale, and Patty Loveless.

Today, the focus is on Buddy’s solo work. Buddy has released a total of five albums on Hightone and New West Records (I’m choosing not to count 2001’s Buddy & Julie Miller… I’ll feature it later). All five are stellar recordings. That’s why I was a bit surprised to find that the five songs I selected for today came exclusively from 1999’s Cruel Moon and 2002’s Midnight & Lonesome.

I’ll start with the tracks from Cruel Moon

“Does My Ring Burn Your Finger” is my favorite Buddy Miller song, hands down. This was one of my first introductions to his music, and the classic country heartbreak contained within won me over.

“Love Match” was written by songwriter Paul Kennerly. In Buddy’s version (a duet with Steve Earle) you can begin to see that love gone wrong is a central theme of the album.

A slightly more hopeful take on love is offered up on “Looking for a Heartache Like You,” a song featuring co-writer Jim Lauderdale. I should note that Buddy’s wife, Julie Miller, also receives co-write credits on this and “Does My Ring Burn Your Finger.”

On now to Midnight & Lonesome

Buddy offers up more heartbreak on the Everly Brothers’ “The Price of Love.” “Wine is Sweet/And Gin is Bitter./Drink all you can/But you Won’t forget her.” That is the price of love… a debt paid in tears and pain. The song gets a rock & roll treatment from Buddy with backing vocals from Julie.

Finally, the title track from Midnight & Lonesome is another country weeper. This one was written by Julie.

Buddy Miller: Does My Ring Burn Your Finger (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: Love Match (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: Looking for a Heartache Like You (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: The Price of Love (Buy Album)
Buddy Miller: Midnight & Lonesome (Buy Album)