“Some say, he’s like a coyote singing the blues to others a voice that’ll even make Hank Williams Cry Jimmy Dale Gilmore is without a doubt one of the last remaining country troubadours coming out of the Lone Star Sate.”
Now, you might notice him from The Coen Brothers movie “The Big Lebowski” as Smokey or Peter Bogdanovich from “A Thing Called Love” Jimmy Dale Gilmore is without a doubt one of the last remaining country troubadours coming out of the Lone Star State. With nearly 50 years in the industry and a handful of awards including a 3 time Grammy nominations. Gilmore shows no sign of slowing down.
Born and raised in a small West Texas town of Tulia and later Lubbock. From a young age, Gilmore was surrounded with a diverse set of sounds, from old country records to the music of his youth. His passion went on to blossom, he knew from thereon this was what he wanted to do as a career in which it resulted in a long successful musical journey endured by millions around the world. From the Hub City Movers to working with punk rock band [MudHoney] and bluegrass finest [Warren Hellman], its safe to say Gilmore is never afraid to explore and experiment with music.
Downey To Lubbock- out 1st of June 2018
Currently on tour with the former co-founder of The Blasters Dave Alvin. Both musicians are set to release their very first collaborative album titled “Downey To Lubbock” which will be out tomorrow 01/06/2018.
In the light of the release, Gilmore sat down with myself few weeks ago to discuss his upcoming album with Dave Alvin, touring together and choosing a favorite song from the album.
Due to the length of the interview, this article will be followed by a second piece showcasing the rest of the interview with Jimmie Dale Gilmore.
A huge thanks to Jimmie for finding the time and to Lance Cowen who arranged it!
Editors note: Given questions might not appear as the spoken questions- this only for the purposes of clarity.
RT: well first off, thank so much for doing this- I know you’ve been very busy lately touring.
JDG: Yeah it’s been kinda strange lately!
RT: why is that?
JDG: I had been gone for song long not being active- and getting back to touring as much as I did- its a lot of little things I really like it.
JDG: Being on the road a lot than I have been for along time and away from home. Touring is always odd, it’s always strange- because every day is different- there’s a routine- you wake up in a different place and also on this very moment- we are moving into a house we’ve bought- out way- far away west Texas in Terlingua-Even that- another wrinkle added into the craziness.
RT: Talking about being busy! Don’t know if you heard of this story about Bobby Bare before, according to Tom T Hall book – “The storytellers of Nashville” Bobby was apparently staying at the holiday in throughout the vast majority of his tour career. Anyhow, at one point in his life, upon retuning home he got frustrated and couldn’t sleep in his bedroom due to the fact of getting used to the holiday inn rooms! I’ve always loved that story.
JDG: I like it both ways- I like it when I’m on the road then I like the change when I get home- then I like the change when I’m on the road again. So it’s not hectic is a negative thing it’s just hectic. Lately- I’m very appreciative of just wonderful career I’ve been able to have- for that reason- because musicians get to do a lot more than most people.
RT: Congratulation on your recent album announcement! Downey To Lubbock with Dave Alvin.
JDG: Well, thank you very much, I’m very happy with it- I’m very happy with the recording- its one of those things that came unexpectedly and I’m completely pleased with the product.
RT: Now, with you often been categorized as a country singer, this record has a diverse set of songs likewise to sounds, allocating both yourself and Dave’s musical background from Country, Blues to Rocknroll.
JDG: Well you know, the blues. Even though I’ve been mostly categorized as a country singer the music that I loved that really gravitated to me the most as I was learning to play when I was young. Of course, when I was young country music was the entire thing I was exposed to but as I got older and started to learn how to play guitar and sing and everything, I was equally fan of the blues, of rock n roll and rockabilly as I was of country and folk music. So for me, it’s really fun to get to do a bluesy, a kinda rocking out kind of thing Dave does. Also, because of the fact, that Dave and I both have a deep love for that range of music its just a thrill for us to discover that. We were touring together just the two of us without a band. So we got just pull anything up. Almost anything of the old stuff I’d pull up Dave would already know it, or even if he didn’t know it he’ll learn it within five minutes. He’s a little bit quicker than I am “laughs” he’s such a strong instrumentals and plus he’s a great singer, if though he doesn’t think so!
RT: The album also showcases a tribute to former friends [Steve Young] and heroes such as Lloyd Price and Lightin Hopkins, which I must add was bought to life on a whole new level of rocknroll phenomena.!
JDG: Yes, which it’s more of the music that Dave and I that discovered both we already knew and loved. There are several songs that people claim to be the first rock n roll song. And then Lawdy Miss Clawdy is one of them. Lloyd Price it was that it was the first recording used the backbeat. That heavy backbeat drum and then Elvis had a really great version with it. Lloyd price was one of my favourites when I was very young when I was a teenager.
RT: Speaking of Lightin Hopkins, is it true you’ve never seen him live in Texas instead LA?
JDG: Yes its ironic, then I got to be friends with him out in California. But I guess he never played in Lubbock and you know, truly Lubbock is as Dave pointed out that is as far away as from Houston as it is from Downey. All the blues folks that ended up getting publicized in Austin and both Kerrville Festival and Antone’s became the home of the blues in Austin and I was very close with those people.
RT: It goes without saying, both yourself and Dave have different musical backgrounds, was there any confusion when both of you joined forces?
JDG: I think so, but I think almost immediately people from both directions acquire a real appreciation for the other one really quickly. It just seemed that from the very start, you can tell that. I would have a lot of real advent fans and then there’d be bunch of people that never heard of me before, because they were there to see Dave and vice versa. But real quickly it seemed like everybody could kinda tell it that we worked together really well. I guess, they probably could tell the affinity we have with each other personally.
RT: Apparently you guys go way back without realising..
JDG: If we did we won’t remember each other. He and Phil were quite a bit younger than me, several years younger than me. So if I met him I won’t even remember them. That was in the 60s. But we were defiantly were listing to the same music. Our tastes ran the same direction. And, it’s interesting, just the fact Dave and I became really good friends for a very long time. We met because of music but we really didn’t play together. We had just become friends. And it wasn’t until we did some shows together last year that we started discovering this common history.
RT: If you don’t mind me asking, who came up with the conjoined tour idea?
JDG: Well, as I said we were already friends back in the 90’s in the days when I did do a whole lot of touring and I was on Elektra Records and I had a higher profile. Dave even wrote some articles about me for some publications. He’s a really good writer. We met on a folk tour, the original version of what they called monsters of folk and it was put together by Tom Russell, I think Tom organised it. But it was me, Butch Hancock and Dave and Steve Young was on it and Katy Moffatt and I think, maybe, Rosie Flores, I can’t remember the whole line up but anyway, we gotten to know each other in that tour but we didn’t play. We played separate songs in the set but we didn’t play together. And I think it was my booking agent Mike Leahy, I think is the one who called me up one day and asked if I’d be interested in experimenting and see if I would like to play with Dave Alvin and I said “yes, he’s one of my favourites, I love his music and I like him personally.” So its kinda like we both instantly said yeah lets try it lets do it and we are both capable of playing without a band and doing solo stuff. So it’s was really easy just to get together like a song in around, expect what it was just the two of us “Laughs” and the course of it we discovered that we had enough in common to do more than just a little run of shows.
RT: Out of curiosity, what was your first impression when hearing Dave’s music?
JDG: I am just now beginning to learn and love The Blasters stuff but I missed it when it was new. I just didn’t know about it even though he toured The Blasters and The Joe Ely Band together. They were very famous. I heard ‘of’ them but in that period I wasn’t doing any music professionally and wasn’t keeping up with it. So now, its fun for me to go back and see what he did. I love that music and sort. Even though, Joe was friends with the Clash and I met them and everything but I didn’t really know their music. That’s a pretty ironic part about my career.I met them socially when they came to visit to Texas. We kinda hang out together but I didn’t do any music with them.
RT: Now, if you were to pick a song from the record as a favourite what might it be?
JDG: Oh gosh, you know, I really like every single cut on it. But I kinda think the Downey to Lubbock one really captures the spirit of it and the fun of it. It’s hard to say, because I really like some of the ballads. There’s really a beauty, “Sliverlake” I particularly like. Steve Young had been a friend of both of us back through the years. I wouldn’t pin it down to one song. Because one a different day I might have a different answer.
RT: Speaking of Sliverlake can you tell me about Steve Young story and how both of you knew of the song but had no idea he showed it to you both!
JDG: Well, when he presented to me he didn’t tell me he’d written it for me, he just said he really wanted me to record it. Because he somehow thought that my voice would work with it. But when he showed it to Dave he told him he’d had written for him and it completely makes sense and Dave lives in Sliverlake now.
RT: Oh my goodness, a full circle!
JDG: I wish if you could’ve seen Dave’s face the first time I played that song on stage. We were actually at one of those gigs last year and when we were learning each others stuff and I played Sliver Lake Dave was just…. Neither one of us had known the story about it before, that part of the story. And when Dave he was the one who came up and said, I think we should try and record some these things. And I originally thought he meant probably do a live recording of the show, he might have meant that when he said it. But then it real quickly blossomed into “ Hey lets make a real record” and I think Sliver Lake was the first song he put down on the list of things he defiantly wanted to do in the record.
RT: Finally, would you consider maybe making another album in the long run?
JDG: Yeah, I would. I would like to record more with Dave. Recently, I’ve done this with Ruthie Foster and Carry Rodriguez I don’t know if you are familiar with them. Ruthie is extremely good singer/songwriter, guitar player and Carry is the daughter of an old friend of ours who died a few years ago David Rodriguez who was a really great songwriter. Ruthie came from gospel, blues background and so we done this together. It’s something I like doing just presenting these different showcases of different music They were billing us as the Texas Troubadours!
RT: Based on what I see, everyone that is from or came out of Texas is a poet.
JDG: Well, it’s amazing it really is amazing, I know it become a little bit of cliché by people saying. But its really true there seems to be a large disproportionate number of really good musicians out of Texas. I don’t know, I think it might partly be because it’s the centre of the US, pretty much. And plus Texas is big and it covers a lot territory. But Texas always seem like it have a very huge variety of music and very huge variety of style and ethnicities. It’s a big place.
End of Part one.