Five years ago Jim Lauderdale--one of the most singular melodic minds in country music--signed with RCA, no doubt hoping that his fifth label in seven years might open some doors. He'd already achieved a different sort of success, as a top Nashville songwriter who'd penned material for the likes of George Strait, Patty Loveless, and Mark Chesnutt, but it had never translated into broader success as a performer. Lauderdale went on to cut two fine albums for the label, all the while piling up more hits as a songwriter, but even after he sanded away the eclectic tendencies that fatally distinguished his 1994 classic Pretty Close to the Truth (Atlantic), they still failed to advance his cause. Last summer he moved to a new Nashville indie called Dualtone, which has emerged as a refuge for extremely talented Music City misfits; his labelmates include fellow former major label acts Radney Foster, Chris Knight, and David Ball. His first release there was last year's The Other Sessions, a coherent compilation of tracks cut at various times in the late 90s. It continues the hard-country direction of his RCA albums--rivers of pedal-steel guitar stream over a bed of Bakersfield twang--and all but one of the songs were cowritten with more orthodox Nashville writers, including Frank Dycus, Leslie Satcher, Kostas, and Harlan Howard. They're good--but not as good as they could be. This spring he'll release his second collaboration with bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley and an all-acoustic outing, both for Dualtone; those formats seem more promising. Both these shows are sold-out. Friday, March 8, 7 and 10 PM, Old Town School of Folk Music, 4544 N. Lincoln; 773-728-6000.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Liz Tormes.