The biographies tell us that Americana star Jim Lauderdale released his first album in 1991, but sometimes history has to be revised. The album that he hoped would be first was recorded in 1979 in the basement studio of Earl Scruggs in Madison TN. It was a duo bluegrass project with recently inducted Bluegrass Hall of Famer Roland White.
When the 22-year-old newcomer couldn’t find a record company willing to take a chance on the project, it got set aside and then lost, until a couple years ago.
“Dianne’s the one who found them,” said White, telling the story of his wife Dianne Bouska finding a rough mix on stereo reel-to-reel tape in a box at home. “She said, 'look at this'. We played the tape and said oh wow that’s the album we did. It had been misplaced. I had just forgot about it actually.”
But Lauderdale had not. He was thrilled to have it recovered. And as of this week, the long lost album Jim Lauderdale and Roland White is out on Yep Rock Records, the same day as a new Lauderdale solo album called Time Flies. Lauderdale, reached on the road, says he came to Nashville in ‘79 with his heart set on meeting his heroes George Jones and Roland White. Jones didn't work out. But White took him under his wing.
“I was listening to a lot of everything, but a lot of bluegrass,” Lauderdale said. “And the Kentucky Colonels, the band Roland was in with his brother Clarence, just really blew me away. I loved Roland’s mandolin playing and his singing and I was really wild on the idea of singing with him.”
Lauderdale remembers introducing himself to White at the Station Inn. White thinks they met at Opryland. Either way, White, almost 20 years older, invited Lauderdale over to make music and then arranged the band and studio for the recording session. Earl's son Steve Scruggs engineered. Earl was home and occasionally came down to deliver coffee on a silver tray with china cups.
Many of the songs White and Lauderdale knew in common initially made it onto the recording, including covers some Delmore Brothers songs and the Reno and Smiley tune “Stone Must Be The Walls Built Around Your Heart.” Two are early Lauderdale originals.
As for Time Flies, the album features a combination of guitar players he’s never had together before in Kenny Vaughan and Chris Scruggs, contributing to a sound he’s describing as new for him. It was recorded several spurts at Nashville’s Blackbird studios and also features harmony vocals from Lillie Mae and Frank Rische.
Says Jim: “It’s cool that what would have been my first record is now my 30th and then the 31st record just kind of shows the passing of time musically for me.”