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Jimmie Dale Gilmore returns to action

By Jeffrey B. Remz, March 2000

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Miller says he didn't have a set notion of what would unfold in the recording studio at his home.

"It might make for a clean easy record, but creatively you might miss out on some fun stuff ," he says.

"I like to be open with whatever would happen. It's good I function that way because Jimmie and I never worked together. He has a real good sense of where his music should be at. That makes it easier for me. He just really knows what he is musically."

Gilmore says of his involvement in production, "In a certain way, that's always been a little bit the case. This time, it was explicit. It was definitely a team effort in the production itself. Buddy added so much in technical ability."

Gilmore's involvement in music dates back to his youthful days on his dad's dairy farm in Tulia, Tex. thanks to his father's honky tonk band and attending concerts by the likes of Hank Snow and Webb Pierce. Gilmore was named after Jimmie Rodgers, the father of country.

The family later moved to Lubbock where Gilmore's dad worked in agriculture at Texas Tech. Gilmore took up at the guitar at 16 and got involved in country.

Among his buddies were Butch Hancock and Joe Ely.

"I knew Butch when he was 12," says Gilmore. "Joe and I got to be friends my last year of high school. Joe had already dropped out. We had were playing in little clubs in town. Joe had been playing rock and roll. He had been a pro at kind of an early age. I was exclusively a solo performer until Joe and I were friends and Butch and I were friends, but that was in separate circles."

After a short stint at Texas Tech, Gilmore gained a helping financial hand from Buddy Holly's father, who heard what he liked.

"That was the beginning of us playing," says Gilmore of the trio that would become The Flatlanders, a country band with folk influences that was unlike the country pop sound of that time.

The three made the trek to Nashville, recording an album for Plantation Records in 1972.

While the end result musically was fine - The Flatlanders one and so far only album has received much praise over the years - few knew about it. A single, "Dallas," didn't go anyplace, and the recording only came out on 8-track tape.

The label barely did anything to push the album.

"I think those guys were extremely negligent and blind," Gilmore says. "But we went on with our own thing kind of like we always had."

One sign of the negligence was the release of the album as "Jimmy Dale and the Flatlanders," a misspelling of Gilmore's first name.

Gilmore handled lead vocals with he being the only one signed to a contract. Neither Hancock nor Ely liked the deal being offered and didn't want to sign.

The group did not last long.

"It bugged us to have it kind of have it turn it to be so nothing," Gilmore says. "What a potentially great thing they had on their hands. They just weren't capable of seeing what a potential force (it could be)."

At some point, Gilmore figured it was time to move on.

And move on he did, going to New Orleans and later Colorado where he took up an interest in Eastern religion and thought.

After 15 years away (although some of his songs were recorded by others like Ely), Gilmore resurfaced on HighTone Records with "Fair & Square" in 1988 with Ely producing. A self-titled album followed the next year.

He moved to Elektra for "After Awhile" in 1991 and perhaps his best work, "Spinning Around the Sun" in 1993.

Gilmore never enjoyed a huge following or hit the singles charts, but he has maintained a steady and loyal following.

He downsized to his own label after asking Elektra to let him go. Elektra "was trying to market me in the same way as all their urban music was being marketed, which just didn't make sense. Elektra spent large amounts of money in promoting me which wasn't relevant to what my audience was about."

Coupled with record companies merging and more technology available, Gilmore did it himself. Rounder is distributing the disc, cracking that tough nut of making the music available to the masses.

Like Gilmore, The Flatlanders also enjoyed a following, playing periodic concerts over the years, including one last year at Central Park. Their album was reissued in England and re-released in the U.S. in 1990 with the "More a Legend Than a Band" title. They recorded a song for the soundtrack of the movie "The Horse Whisperer" a few years ago.

Earlier this year, the trio hit the road for concerts.

"We've always remained completely associated with each other," says Gilmore. "We mainly collaborate. We do each other's songs. But as far as performing, almost none since 1972."

"What triggered it initially was - the entire time we always agreed we wanted to do it. Everybody agrees, and then there's no way for it to come together. It's one of those things that you want to do."

"When the 'Horse Whisperer' came out, that sort of galvanized us. We got together to see if we could do it. We blocked a space of time - three days. We went into the studio and wrote four songs that we like. That was the turning point. We had never really tried to do that. What we found out was not only could we do it, which was a wonderful discovery, but it was good. It was something we could feel good about putting our names on. That sort of broke the ice. When they asked us to be on the Letterman show, which brought the whole Flatlanders team back together, that was enjoyable. We had another taste of it."

The decision to actually get back together was hatched last year.

"Last August, Joe and I were hanging out," says Gilmore. "We said, 'let's actually do it. Let's rehearse together and get some songs together for the fun of it. Not because we have a record deal. Not for any other reason. Like when it first started. We did it because we liked the music and each other's company."

"Joe called up Butch this night and he said, 'Tell me when and where.'"

"We just decided to do it and then we did it," he says."

"We're doing this with the idea if something comes of it, if enough songs come up to make a record, we will," he says. "That's not the driving (element). We didn't come at this thing from a commercial point. We're older now. We have to make some money."

"For the first time ever, we worked on our songs and learned the harmony parts," he says.

The Flatlanders and Gilmore individually seem to have something in common - taking a long career break.

"So far, it's not wearing me out," Gilmore says of all the recent activity. "Check with me in a month or so and find out."

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