Buddy & Julie Miller | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Buddy & Julie Miller 

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Buddy & Julie Miller

Over the last few years, Buddy and Julie Miller have done a lot of high-profile work for other people. Buddy's guitar playing has been a regular feature in bands led by Emmylou Harris and Steve Earle, and he did an excellent job producing the new Jimmie Dale Gilmore album. And he and Julie have had their tunes recorded by Harris, Little Jimmy Scott, the Dixie Chicks, Lee Ann Womack, Hank Williams III, Garth Brooks, and Suzy Bogguss, among others. But none of these projects reflects the husband-and-wife team's formidable talent more than their own recordings, which, as is the case for many of Nashville's best writers and players, get little respect from the country mainstream. On his solo album Cruel Moon, from last year, Buddy nails twangy honky-tonk ("Looking for a Heartache Like You"), sanguine ballads ("I'm Gonna Be Strong"), and almost everything in between. With his scrappy, soulful singing and unobtrusively fiery guitar playing, he renders this range of material with a surprisingly consisistent, heartfelt sound. Julie doesn't cover as much turf on her second solo album, Broken Things (released, like Buddy's record, by Hightone), favoring a keening strain of folk rock with droney Celtic flavorings. Her voice has an inescapable little-girl quality, but she stretches it to beautifully express sophisticated feelings in tunes like "I Need You" and "I Still Cry." The Millers write together and play all over each other's records, which makes it easy for them to tour and perform together--and their witty stage banter alone is almost worth the price of admission. The smart, versatile Knoxville singer-songwriter R.B. Morris opens the first show, which is sold-out; Paul Cebar opens the second. Saturday, 10 PM, and Sunday, 8 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport; 773-525-2508.

PETER MARGASAK

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Wilson.

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