Jimmie Dale Gilmour and Butch Hancock are two thirds of the legendary Flatlanders, a group Jimmie formed in 1972. The Flatlanders didn’t last long, disbanding in 1973, but then a legend grew, fuelled by the solo success of the band’s original threesome, which also included Joe Ely. More a Legend than a Band was the title of a Rounder release in 1990, reprising the early 1972 sessions. In 2012 they released their most recent album, The Odessa Tapes, which comprised unreleased recordings from the same era, re-discovered in an old studio.
Jimmie and Butch, along with Jimmie’s son Colin Gilmore, are playing a one-off gig at The Tuning Fork next Sunday evening March 1st. This morning I chatted to Jimmie about, well, things…..
Where’s Joe? ...is my first, slightly ungrateful, opening question.
Well, it turns out that The Flatlanders have been touring recently, but scheduling issues have made it impossible for Joe to make it down under. Bugger, so close……
But nonetheless we should count ourselves lucky, because Jimmie and his wife Janet are coming down to visit friends and spend a couple of weeks touristing, including a first visit to the South Island. Butch and Jimmie were down here in 1990, but memories of that visit are lost in the fog. What has endured is the impact of New Zealand on them after their private visit about four years ago. Since then New Zealand has replaced Ireland as the Gilmore’s favourite country to visit.
Colin is bringing his band, so it’s going to be a family affair, although Butch’s son, who has played in the past, is not with them.
Every one of you is from Lubbock. What is it about that town?
Many musicians have come out of Lubbock, a mediumsize city in the north-west of Texas, something in the water. Mac Davis, Natalie Maines (Dixie Chicks), Amanda Shires, Delbert Mclinton all hail from Lubbock. Waylon Jennings, Tanya Tucker and Don Williams all came from close by. But the most famous of all is of course Buddy Holly & The Crickets.
How much is owed to Buddy?
“Well, Buddy is kind of…an umbrella over the whole thing”, and while Jimmie never knew Buddy personally, he did have a connection in that Buddy’s father, long after Buddy was gone, actually helped pay for some of Jimmie’s first recordings. And that was the beginning of him playing in bands, instead of being just a solo, folk performer. Unfortunately, the tapes of those recordings have never been found, unlike the Odessa Tapes, mentioned above, which were early Flatlanders recordings.
You have to wonder sometimes at what would have happened if that plane hadn’t crashed?…
Jimmie agrees, and then adds the other big what if, what if Waylon Jennings hadn’t volunteered to give up his seat to Big Bopper?
Ok, back to the present, and next Sunday night we are going to hear some old songs and some new songs.“Butch always has some new songs” and certainly Jimmie will play songs we haven’t heard before. Maybe songs from his recent album with Dave Alvin. We both agree what a great thing it would be for the two of them to come down sometime. Promoters take note!
We close out our conversation by talking about South by Southwest, which takes place next month in Austin, and turns the town into mayhem. Jimmie will most likely escape to his little holiday home way down by the Mexican border. And we touch on my favourite festival, AmericanaFest, and we agree that the Flatlanders ought to be recognised as Americana pioneers.
So no doubt we’ll see all you Americana fans down at the Tuning Fork, next Sunday March 1st, for an evening of legendary significance. Be there!
Tickets on sale at Ticketmaster.co.nz