Heavyweight songwriter Jim Lauderdale has been invited to play to the attentive audience of Colston Hall’s Lantern tonight as part of River Town, the third edition of the festival which celebrates Americana, country, blues and bluegrass music in Bristol. He has previously composed music for the Dixie Chicks and Elvis Costello, to drop just a couple of names.
It’s a seated format and it’s rather fitting. As we listen to the night’s opening act, the divine duo My Darling Clementine, we embark on a journey across American grasslands and infinite roads where anything is possible. Made up of Birmingham-based couple Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, My Darling Clementine’s sound is raw and authentic. I am particularly blown away by their beautiful performance of Eugene, which makes the most of Lou’s soothing but characterful voice.
Jim Lauderdale appears on stage with his guitar as his only companion, though his career of over thirty years creates a strong aura of assurance around him. With a flawless voice and a flowing mastery of the guitar, Lauderdale presents us his latest album, London Southern, inspired by the music that both influenced him and the Beatles – American R&B, country and rock’n’roll.
Lauderdale performs the soulful We’ve Only Got So Much Time Here, which is dedicated to co-producers of the album Neil Brockbank and Bobby Irwin who sadly died since the LP was recorded two years ago, and the catchy Sweet Time, influenced by the retro country of the early 60s. He also travels back to his solo debut album with King of Broken Hearts, a beautiful tribute to George Jones and Gram Parsons. The audience is already fascinated by Lauderdale’s charismatic talent when he starts singing I Love You More, an astonishing and delicate ballad that leaves us holding our breath until the last note. To end this superb evening, he invites the “very special guests” My Darling Clementine to feature on Headed for the Hills and then finishes with the forceful Hole in My Heart, co-written with Buddy Miller.
From special moments of breathtaking musical beauty to light-hearted jokes, Jim Lauderdale performs a stunning show. The cosiness of the room breaks the boundaries between the artist and the audience, which only amplifies the magic of this celebration of Americana.
Jim Lauderdale + My Darling Clementine, The Lantern, Saturday, July 15
All photos and videos by Margaux Pittet
Read more: The week in Jazz July 17-23