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Miller, Thompson serve up tasty lunch fare

Hotel Cafe, Hollywood, Cal., January 28, 2013

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

Buddy Miller and Richard Thompson both took a few minutes to help promote their latest projects with an unusual lunchtime showcase at the Hotel Café, which is somewhat like Hollywood's answer to Nashville's Bluebird Café.

Miller was there to play a few songs from "Buddy & Jim," a new duet release he recorded with longtime friend, Jim Lauderdale, while Thompson spotlighted his new "Electric" album, which - not coincidentally -- Miller also produced.

Before a small gathering of music business types, Miller took the stage first, armed only with an acoustic guitar that required continual tuning. Miller made a few self-deprecating remarks about his singing skills (he's dead wrong about that, by the way) and at one point described his songs as duet-ie kinds of tunes. When listening to him perform these songs solo, "you'll just have to fill in the blanks," he quipped at one point. Without even missing a beat, a woman in the audience replied to Miller, "I'd like to fill in your blanks." It was just that sort of a loose afternoon.

Miller stuck primarily to catalogue songs, only dipping into "Buddy & Jim" for the rousing Looking for a Heartache like You. He marveled that The Band's Levon Helm covered his Wide River To Cross, but nearly brought the house down with Julie (his wife) Miller's All My Tears, a 'death where is thy sting?' song, if ever there was one.

Thompson kept more with the program, singing the disjointed Stuck On the Treadmill, Saving the Good Stuff for You and the emotionally gripping The Snow Goose, all from his latest disc. However, Thompson reached back to 1991's "Rumor & Sigh" for his romantic death song, 1952 Vincent Black Lightening, which offered up the perfect combination of fast picking and perceptive lyrics.

While Miller and Thompson come from completely different continents both men clearly know their way around playing the guitar, as well as writing and singing great songs. And this day in Hollywood, nothing went better with lunch than Miller and Thompsons' beautiful serenades.

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