Buddy Miller Artist In Residence: August 10, 2010

August 10, 2010
Buddy Miller opened the first show of his artist-in-residence series at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with “All My Tears,” a quietly soulful song about deliverance from earthly pain to heavenly freedom. He ended his regular set with “Somewhere Trouble Don’t Go,” a feverishly rocking song about escaping devilish ways to a place untainted and untouchable by evil.

For the two hours in between, Miller and a remarkable succession of guests—celebrated jazz guitarist Bill Frisell, Country Music Hall of Fame members Tom T. Hall and Emmylou Harris, and gospel trio the McCrary Sisters—played music that was as real and as emotionally raw as it gets, yet it also was steeped in beauty and washed in the spiritual. Miller, his guests, and his bandmates drew on the stoutest of American roots-music traditions, bringing in blues, country, folk, gospel, jazz, and soul. Yet they transcended their influences through the joy, passion and matchless talent with which they played.

“This is some show,” Harris said with typical understatement as she joined Miller for an encore of “Don’t Tell Me to Stop Loving You,” a Buddy and Julie Miller song that Lee Ann Womack has covered.

If an artist can be judged by the company he keeps, no wonder Buddy Miller is held in such high regard. As the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s 2010 artist-in-residence, Miller became the first artist to perform in the Museum’s renovated Ford Theater following flood damage suffered in May. He is the Museum’s eighth artist-in-residence, joining such esteemed company as Cowboy Jack Clement, Earl Scruggs, Tom T. Hall, Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Jerry Douglas, and Vince Gill.

“For this honor, we single out a bona fide master craftsman who can be credited with a large and exemplary body of musical work,” said Museum director Kyle Young in introducing Miller. “To these masters, we offer our stage for the creation of intimate and unique musical experiences of their choice.”

For his first show, Miller chose to play with heroes and frequent collaborators. With Frisell, he played open-hearted, beautiful instrumentals, such as an achingly gorgeous rendition of “Shenandoah.” Miller has recently recorded an album with fellow guitarists Marc Ribot and Greg Leisz (with Leisz on pedal steel). “With these shows, I guess I get to do what I want, and what I love is to hear Bill Frisell play,” Miller said of the Colorado-born, Seattle-based guitarist.

Miller performed Hall’s “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” which Miller said he has included in every show he’s done since he began performing. He referred to Hall as “my hero,” as the Hall of Fame member received a standing ovation after performing two solo songs, “Pay No Attention to Alice” and “Homecoming.”

Along with band members Byron House on bass and Marco Giovino on drums, and with Frisell sitting in on guitar throughout the evening, Miller backed the McCrary Sisters on two songs, including a simmering, rhythmic take on Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” that will appear on an upcoming album that the trio (Ann, Alfrieda, and Regina) recently completed.

Miller also performed several songs with Emmylou Harris, who first covered Julie Miller’s “All My Tears” on her 1995 Wrecking Ball album and then hired Buddy as her guitarist for her Spyboy band, which backed her through the mid-to-late 1990s. Harris has continued to record and tour with Miller over the years, most recently on a tour with Shawn Colvin and Patty Griffin billed as “Three Girls and Their Buddy.”

“It was a great day when Buddy and Julie Miller came into my life,” Harris said. “One day I’m going to be a Miller when I grow up.” In return, Miller pointed out that Harris’s mother was in the front row, whom he described as the world’s best cook and promised someday soon he would return all the dishes of hers he has at home.

Among those in the crowd included 2008 artist-in-residence Jerry Douglas, Country Music Hall of Fame members Jim Foglesong and Jo Walker-Meador, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Duane Eddy, Americana artists Elizabeth Cook and Webb Wilder, and songwriter Paul Kennerley.

“Thank you for putting up with me and for coming out to the great Country Music Hall of Fame,” Miller said at the close of the evening, not long before walking off in front of yet another standing ovation.

Miller’s remaining two artist-in-residence concerts are August 17 and 24 and will feature different surprise guests 

—Michael McCall

Set List
Buddy Miller
August 10, 2010

1. "All My Tears"-Buddy Miller, solo
2. "That's How Strong My Love Is"-Buddy Miller with band (Buddy Miller, guitar and vocals; Bill Frisell, guitar; Byron House, bass; Marco Giovino, drums)
3. "No Good Lover"-Buddy Miller with band and harmony vocalist Ann McCrary
4. "Shelter Me"-Buddy Miller with band and the McCrary Sisters (Alfreda, Ann, Regina)
5. "Blowin' in the Wind"-McCrary Sisters with band
6. "I Want the Lord to Know My Name"-McCrary Sisters with band
7. "Worry Too Much"-Buddy Miller with band and Ann and Regina McCrary
8. "Hard Times"-Instrumental featuring Bill Frisell, guitar
9. "God's Winged Horse"-Featuring Bill Frisell, guitar, with Buddy Miller, guitar and vocals
10. "That's How I Got to Memphis"-Buddy Miller with band
11. "Pay No Attention to Alice"-Tom T. Hall, solo on guitar
12. "Homecoming"-Tom T. Hall, solo on guitar
13. "Shenandoah"-Instrumental featuring Bill Frisell
14. "Love Hurts"-Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller
15. "Burning the Midnight Oil"-Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller
16. "Walk Away Renee"-Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller
17. "Wide River to Cross"-Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller
18. "Somewhere Trouble Don't Go"-Buddy Miller and band with the McCrary Sisters
19. Encore: "Don't Tell Me to Stop Loving You"-Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller