On Smooth Waters

Read our review of ‘Cayamo Sessions’ by Buddy Miller & Friends



buddy miller cayamo



I write this with not a little trepidation.

It’s not that I don’t like this new album.  I do … by a good length, in horse racing parlance.  It’s just that I don’t want to promote the Cayamo cruise too much.  I’ve been following the line-ups for the cruise which, for one week each year, hosts some of the best singers and songwriters in country, Americana, folk and roots music.

Some friends have been regulars and my wife and I are going to try to get on board in 2017.  This however may not be easy as it sells out each cruise and you have to rely on a wait list.  So, I don’t want even more competition by promoting it.  So I won’t.

Over the last few years, award-winning guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer Buddy Miller set up a recording studio on the ship and recorded and played with everyone from veteran songwriters to emerging artists.  That’s how Buddy Miller & Friends’ Cayamo Sessions At Sea (due January 29, 2016 on New West Records and Warner music Australia) came about.

In 2012, Miller decided to try to capture a few of these special maritime moments and brought along some recording gear and set up a studio in the ship’s library where he and co-host and lifelong friend Jim Lauderdale recorded episodes for their SiriusXM Outlaw Country Buddy & Jim Radio Show.  In fact, they ended up recording their debut episode with Lucinda Williams.  Miller thought the radio show recordings sounded great so, in 2014, he brought more gear, an engineer and some stellar musicians and set up a temporary recording studio between the lanes of a bowling alley.  For two days and nights, a who’s who of artists came to record while lucky fans watched on.  He repeated the process again on the 2015 cruise.

Eleven musical moments recorded on these voyages are with Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams, Kacey Musgraves, Richard Thompson, Lee Ann Womack, Shawn Colvin, Nikki Lane, Brandi Carlile, Jill Andrews, Elizabeth Cook, The Lone Bellow and Doug Seegers.

The album’s highlights are many – Buddy doing duets with some of the best female singers around – Lee Ann Womack on the Loretta Lynn/Conway Twitty country classic “After The Fire Is Gone”, Kacey Musgraves on Buck Owens’ jaunty “Love’s Gonna Live Here”, the Dolly Parton/Porter Wagoner standard “Just Someone I Used To Know” with Nikki Lane, “If Teardrops Were Pennies” alongside Elizabeth Cook and “Come Early Morning” with Jill Andrews.  Those beautiful voices blend so well with Miller’s and the arrangements and production, as you would expect from Buddy Miller, are perfectly set.

There are other treats as wellLucinda Williamsstill and beautiful rendition of Gram Parsons “Hickory Wind”, Brandi Carlile combining with folk-rock trio The Lone Bellow to put together a vibrant version of John Prine‘s “Angel From Montgomery” and British folk great Richard Thompson puts forward a strident version of Hank Williams‘ “Wedding Bells”.  I love Doug Seegers’ voice (it has a certain charming ‘yip’ to it) and he and Miller have fun with “Take The Hand Of Jesus”.

To round things out are Kris Kristofferson doing his classic song, “Sunday Morning Coming Down” and Shawn Colvin offering up The Rolling Stones’ “Wild Horses”.  I admit when I saw the latter on the track list, I was unsure whether I was ready for another version of that song, having heard it so many times over the years, but Colvin’s is a sparkling (and even longer!) take with so much taste and class in the accompaniments to make it worthwhile.

It is a compilation of many artists and usually with such a collection. there’s more variability than a single artist(s)’ album.  But Miller’s presence, both behind and in front of the mixing desk, is interlaced throughout providing a cohesion that you often don’t get with so many contributing elements.

There you have it dear reader.  Buddy Miller & Friends’ Cayamo Sessions At Sea is a celebration of talented people sharing songs they love and cherish, all gift wrapped with sublime artistry and pristine production values. 

Like most things associated with Buddy Miller – it’s all class.

As for the cruise, no comment!


Buddy Miller is an award-winning guitarist, songwriter, singer, record and music producer and the current Executive Music Producer for ABC’s hit show, “Nashville.” He has released nine studio albums, both as a solo artist and with collaborators including his wife, singer-songwriter Julie Miller.  He has produced albums for Robert Plant, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Solomon Burke, Richard Thompson, The Wood Brothers, The Devil Makes Three, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The McCrary Sisters and Dr. Ralph Stanley. Along with co-host Jim Lauderdale, Miller produces the fascinating “The Buddy & Jim Radio Show” for Sirius XM Outlaw Country. He also curates a stage at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival and has been musical director and bandleader of the annual Americana Music Associations Honors & Awards show for the past eight years.


Buddy Miller & Friends – Cayamo Sessions At Sea

1. After The Fire Is Gone – with Lee Ann Womack
2. Love’s Gonna Live Here – with Kacey Musgraves
3. Sunday Morning Coming Down – Kris Kristofferson
4. Just Someone I Used To Know – with Nikki Lane
5. Hickory Wind – with Lucinda Williams
6. Wedding Bells – with Richard Thompson  
7. If Teardrops Were Pennies – with Elizabeth Cook
8. Wild Horses – with Shawn Colvin
9. Come Early Mornin’ – with Jill Andrews
10. Take The Hand Of Jesus – with Doug Seegers
11. Angel From Montgomery – with Brandi Carlile and The Lone Bellow 

via Thrillhill Music


Read our review of ‘Cayamo Sessions’ by Buddy Miller & Friends



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Author: Rob Dickens

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  1. hi rob – good luck with making it onto the cruise. we’ve been on the past five and will be going again in 2017. as long as you’re registered for the cayamo pre-sale, you should have a reasonable chance as each year there are several hundred first-timers on board. though i suppose some may be sharing cabins with alumni? anyway – i enjoy your blog and wish you all the best!

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    • Hi Geoff. Thanks. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. Yes, I have registered for the Cayamo pre-sale, so fingers crossed. You must be a fan to be going for year 6. Hope to meet you on board! Cheers Rob

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