Jim Lauderdale apparently read the memo on musical productivity backwards. Where it’s not unusual in the least for recording artists to take four years to finish and release an album, the Nashville-based country and bluegrass singer-songwriter recorded and released four albums in the space of just one year in 2014.
That gives him a lot to draw from this weekend in a pair of solo acoustic shows he’s doing in Southern California on a tour that brings him back to the region where he got his career started in the 1980s.
At that time, he was one of the prime movers in the nascent Americana music community with the likes of Dwight Yoakam, Rosie Flores, Lucinda Williams and the Blasters, and he was a regular at the fabled North Hollywood honky-tonk, the Palomino.
On Saturday, March 14, the two-time Grammy-winning musician will be at Don the Beachcomber in Huntington Beach, a long-running restaurant that’s recently started booking some noteworthy Americana musicians. On Sunday, he’ll go to ground zero of the California country sound: Bakersfield, for a performance at the Bakersfield Museum of Art’s Passing Through Series.
“I guess I’ll be playing next to the Greek statues and such,” Lauderdale, 57, tells Pop & Hiss. The latest of the quadruple album release, “I’m A Song,” was a double CD for which he wrote most of the 20 tracks, collaborating with the likes of Elvis Costello, Bobby Bare, John Oates and other songwriting partners. He also rounded up several friends to help sing and play them, including Buddy Miller, Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack and such revered instrumentalists as guitarist James Burton and steel guitarist Al Perkins.
“That’s what I’ve been out supporting, but I’ll be doing older songs, too, from the other 25 records,” the Troutman, N.C., native said nonchalantly.
After the quick stop in the Southland, he’s off to Florida, but says he expects to be back in April with a full band.
One of the fascinating things about Lauderdale’s career is how seamlessly he’s been able to move between the roots country world inhabited by artists of impeccable integrity such as Emmylou Harris and Miller, and commercial country, with hit songs he’s written for such mainstream acts as George Strait, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea and even the late King of Country himself, George Jones.
Oh, and just to prove he’s not slacking off, he and Miller co-produced a new album for mountain music patriarch Ralph Stanley & Friends, “Man of Constant Sorrow.” The “Friends” referenced on the cover include Costello, Robert Plant, Womack, Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner, Old Crow Medicine Show and, not surprisingly on one track, longtime Stanley acolytes Lauderdale and Miller.
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