“We’re in D, Buddy — we’re playing in D,” Peter Case hollered between songs from the sidestage where he was playing over to the mainstage, where Buddy & Julie Miller were performing at the same time.
“We send this song out to Peter Case,” came the playing-along response from Julie Miller. It was a surreal moment that was to be repeated an hour or so later, as both acts again were scheduled opposite each other — only this time, Case was playing the mainstage and the Millers occupied the smaller venue. As the sounds of the two acts met and mingled on this hot, muggy Kentucky afternoon and evening, Case kept up a running monologue about the competition.
“The neighbors are having another party,” Case joked, as the louder Miller band (featuring drums, bass and guitar) threatened to overwhelm his solo performance. Through both sets, though, Case more than held his own, interspersing material from his brilliant new album Full Service, No Waiting with such earlier favorites as “Space Monkey” (co-written with John Prine) and “A Little Wind (Could Blow You Away)”.
The Millers ended up doing triple duty at the festival, playing two of their own sterling sets (each set roughly divided in half between music from Buddy’s and Julie’s solo albums) and backing up Emmylou Harris (both Millers contributed vocal harmonies and musical accompaniment). Harris introduced the band as “the folks you’ve heard all afternoon long; they should call it The Buddy & Julie Miller Festival.”
All three Miller sets were superb and were made all the more memorable by the quirky “conflict” with Case. “Buddy’s band was playing so loud over on the mainstage that you could hear it over at my little acoustic stage,” Case noted later. “So I was trying to yell over at Buddy and Julie that maybe we could do a song together…and I tried to improvise some things to fit with their grooves.”
Case and Buddy Miller shared a laugh backstage about the scheduling conflict, and both artists were diplomatic about the sound problems. “Sorry if we drowned you out”, Buddy apologized.
“It’s a great festival”, Case said, “but the stages are a little too close together for an electric and acoustic combination.”