Buddy and Julie Miller
I fell into a coffee shop discussion recently about who had the coolest band in town. This was before the terrorist attacks, when we were still discussing normal things. Music above all, movies, sports, the opposite sex. A couple of genres came up, and a number of bands. But when the votes tallied up across a few tables, Buddy and Julie Miller came out on top, and everyone seemed okay with that.

They have been referred to as the greatest couple in country music since Tammy Wynette and George Jones. They may not be as tempestuous, but their chemistry is very entertaining, and their partnership very productive. Since her days as a Christian recording artist, Julie has released two CDs on Hightone Records, and Buddy three. They're all over each other's albums, and yet each record remains centered around the artist at hand. That speaks to many things: the strong musical identity that each of them possesses, the total support each gives the other, the inextricability of their gifts. Their latest and eponymous album is their first formal collaboration, and it's reminiscent of their moving and powerful live show.

In person, as on stage, they are unusual and charming, disarmingly so. Buddy is steady, reserved, wry. He's the man of the house, protective and capable on many levels, industrious. Julie is mercurial at least, her mood meter can jump from wounded compassion to enlightened joy and back again in a moment or two. She's like a wide open person, one that laughs and cries a lot, precious and deep. Two different kinds of intense artists who go together in a way that is archetypal, ancient.

We had a really fun conversation for a couple of hours. I stayed longer than I meant to, I was having such a good time. We hit some places that were so confessional and private I felt blessed, and others that were more like an Abbot and Costello routine, or Lucy and Ricky.

I have to go to FarmAid in the morning, and am heartsick that I will have to miss their show here in Nashville tomorrow night. The last time I saw them at a nightclub called 12th & Porter, it was so packed I went in through the kitchen, and ended up side stage, and moved in for a good view of the whole band. When the show began, it took my breath away in its power and presence. When they started singing, I knew I was seeing something holy.

We're lucky to have Buddy and Julie Miller around. I'm glad they're starting to get covered by big artists like the Dixie Chicks and Lee Ann Womack, and that their own records are selling in bigger numbers all the time. The growing resurgence of bluegrass and all kinds of country and roots music owes a lot to a recent funny movie, but has everything to do with the fact that there are a lot of great artists in this genre and a world that's looking for where real country music went. It's right here.   continue to interview

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