Tuesday, March 29, 2011


This is actually a group, led by Buddy Miller, one of my favorite artists of the '00s. Buddy has made great records on his own and with his wife, Julie Miller.  He produced two of my favorite albums of 2010, Robert Plant's Band Of Joy and Patty Griffin's Downtown Church. I actually discovered Buddy as a member of Emmylou Harris' band during her Spyboy era (I saw him open for her and play guitar in her band about a decade ago).

Bill Frisell, a kind of art-jazz guy who has played a lot with John Zorn and also Vernon Reid, is also in the band. So is Marc Ribot, another guy who has played with Zorn, but he's played a lot with Tom Waits as well. And finally, Greg Leisz, who I know mainly as the steel guitarist who plays with Matthew Sweet, but he's played for tons of other artists as well.

This album features mostly traditional country songs re-interpreted in interesting ways with lots of guest vocalists, including Patty, Emmylou, Julie, Lee Ann Womack and Mark Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius, a solo artist who played with Bruce Springsteen's Seeger Sessions Band). It doesn't come off as a gimmicky record-label contrived production, it's quite good.  I like Buddy's simpler stuff, and I'd also like to hear more of Buddy singing (he mostly stays back and lets other people sing), but it is a really cool album, very ambitious. It reminds me in some ways of Don Was' Orquestra Was project, just in how it takes country to a very different place.  A lot of this album makes me feel like I am at a beach party in Hawaii as the sun is coming up.

The highlights: the most rocking song on the album is Roger Miller's "Dang Me" (given a different twist by Chocolate Genius, singing "they oughta take a rope and hang me!") and Emmylou's take on '50s country singer Stonewall Jackson's "Why I'm Walkin'." Buddy and Marc take the vocals on George Jones' "Why Baby Why" which is excellent and Julie sings "God's Wing'ed House," which she wrote the lyrics to (Marc wrote the music).

If you've heard of Buddy Miller and want to check him out, this is NOT where to start. For that, I'd go with Buddy & Julie's The Best Of The Hightone Years.  But give this one a few listens, it's rewarding.

1 comment:

wbhist said...

Being as you mentioned Stonewall Jackson, I wish to note that I have a complete and accurate discography of all singles released in the pop (40000) series by him during his run with Columbia Records. This data I have compiled came directly from the archives of Sony Music which now owns Columbia, where I did research over a period of four years in the 1990's. The information includes: original release dates of 45's (and/or some 78's) by catalogue number, matrix numbers for both 78 and 45 speeds (Columbia had different criteria for each speed), and recording dates for each side. If anyone is interested in obtaining any or all of this data for a minimal fee or stipend, please contact me (or have such people contact me) at: wmbrown6@earthlink.net

I also have written and published a comprehensive discography on every pop single released on Columbia Records between 1939 and 1974 - of which Stonewall's run with the label is a part.