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Jim Lauderdale

Renaissance man in a nudie suit

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Jim Lauderdale was part of the "Town South of Bakersfield" scene in Southern California in the early '90s, and he's acted in musicals. He's written songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, and he's collaborated with rootsy jammers Donna the Buffalo. He's recorded with Ralph Stanley, and his songs have been recorded by George Strait and The Dixie Chicks. He's served as the host of the Americana Music Awards, and he's won that organization's Entertainer of the Year and Song of the Year awards. So, Jim, is there anything you can't do or anyone you don't know?

"Oh, there's plenty I can't do and much, much more I don't know," says Lauderdale by phone from New York, where he's been participating in a series of retrospective shows with Lucinda Williams. Indeed, Lauderdale's sung on most of her albums. "I'm just starting out, making up for lost time."

This Troutman, N.C., native's tongue is in cheek on that last bit. He's been at this for a while, the product of early exposure and early lessons. When he was 6, his sister insisted that he watch The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. That taught him there were sounds out there to compete with the Stanley Brothers and Buck Owens records he'd heard around the house. The bands he played in as a student at the Carolina Friends School continued to broaden his horizons.

Still, his last two records for Yep Roc, including this year's The Bluegrass Diaries, have been bluegrass and honky-tonk releases, honoring those earliest influences 40-some years down the road. A more varied album is due in February, followed by another Hunter collaboration. "That's where my interests lie," Lauderdale admits. "Getting deeper and deeper into different styles, but still expanding." You know, just trying to do it all.

Jim Lauderdale performs at the Shakori Hills Festival Friday, Oct. 12. See www.shakorihills.org for a complete schedule, ticket information and other details. He also plays at Hideaway BBQ Sunday, Oct. 14, with Amy LaVere. Show time is 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door.

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