Buddy Miller

Jan 14, 2016

Buddy Miller
Credit Rolling Stone

Muddy Bottom Blues

Program #59 (January 15 at 8:00PM)

Soulful Americana songwriter, singer, and producer Buddy Miller began his career in the early 1960s as an upright bassist in high school bluegrass combos. Later, he traveled the back roads of America as an acoustic guitarist, eventually landing in New York City, where his Buddy Miller Band included a young Shawn Colvin on vocals and guitar. He also forged an enduring relationship with country-rock iconoclast Jim Lauderdale.

Miller eventually landed in Nashville, where he did session guitar and vocal work on albums by Lauderdale, Victoria Williams, and Heather Myles, among others. He self-produced his criminally overlooked solo debut, Your Love and Other Lies (Hightone, 1995), and followed it with 1997's equally superb Poison Love.

By this point Miller was the lead guitarist in Emmylou Harris' band, and Harris returned the favor with backing vocals throughout Poison Love. Released in 1999, Cruel Moon continued Miller's string of home-recorded masterpieces; this time around, Steve Earle dropped by for the sessions.

A big part of all Miller's recordings was the songwriting and harmonies of his wife, Julie Miller. The 2001 duet album Buddy & Julie Miller brought her contributions to the front of the mix and delivered them with gritty, soulful country arrangements enhanced by the interplay of his scowl and her lilt, while 2002 saw the release of his fifth album for Hightone, Midnight and Lonesome. It again featured contributions from Julie, Harris, and Lauderdale, and mixed honky tonk with heartfelt balladry and the occasional soul cover. In 2004 Miller released the roots gospel album Universal United House of Prayer for New West, followed by Written in Chalk in 2009.

In addition to his stellar solo career, Miller held down his gig in Harris' backing band; played guitar with Earle; produced albums by his wife Julie, Jimmie Dale Gilmore, and the Vigilantes of Love, and wrote songs for the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Lauderdale, and Hank Williams III.

Miller emerged as a recording artist again with 2011's The Majestic Silver Strings, a re-imagining of classic country songs with some originals tossed into the mix. To help him realize the project, he enlisted guitarists Marc Ribot, Bill Frisell, and Greg Leisz, and a rhythm section comprised of bassist Dennis Crouch and drummer Jay Bellerose. Produced by Miller, the guitar army was augmented by vocalists Harris, Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, Womack, Chocolate Genius, Ann McCrary, and wife Julie. The set included a bonus DVD featuring concert footage of the only performance to date of Miller, Ribot, Frisell, and Leisz playing the album's tracks.

Miller teamed with longtime friend and fellow country roots singer and songwriter Jim Lauderdale for 2012's Buddy & Jim, released by New West Records.

(story provided by Allmusic)