secret agent man
Sitting next to me at the Daniel Lanois show was a guy who looked surprisingly like Buddy Miller. I had seen Buddy a few times, and spoke with him at last year’s SXSW. The same baseball hat. Unruly white hair bouncing out underneath it.
Daniel Lanois is in a mold all his own as both a producer and guitarist. A drummer appears behind him, and the new buddy next to me turns and says, “this is going to be one great show. That drummer is Brian Blade. He’s from Shreveport Louisiana. He has a brother who is also a great drummer.”
He tells me he’s been to parties with him. He used to live in New Orleans.When I ask him if he’s a player, he quaintly tells me no, he leaves that to professionals.
I’m still thinking he really is Buddy Miller.
Buddy is scheduled to play the next day a couple times. It wouldn’t be unlikely he’s in town, and a fan of Daniel Lanois, who doesn’t play often, and just came as a fan. He really looks like him. I’m looking, we’re talking. Daniel Lanois is challenging, pushes the boundaries of the club and the performance. He finishes up, and Buddy leaves.
The next day we head out to the National Public Radio party at The Parish on 6th street. See a couple bands and leave for the party Buddy is playing at a few blocks away. Just by odd luck we arrive just in time for his performance. I’m studying this guy. Baseball hat. White hair sticking out. Same face. Though it is now daylight. It was a bit dark the night before.
Out comes the band. It’s Brian Blades’ brother on drums.
They play a few songs, we notice the lead player’s guitar has “Secret Agent Man” in stickers across the face of his guitar. Seems kind of funny. Three songs later Buddy introduces “the great Johnny Rivers on guitar”. Semi retired, looking very fit and trim, in great voice as it turns out, too.
The generous Buddy Miller turns the remainder of the show to Johnny Rivers. Three songs. They stretch out in extended guitar solos. As it turns out Johnny is quite a good player. I had no idea, having only seen him once before. 1975 Saratoga Fair. I remember thinking it was an oldies act then. He opened with “Hound Dog”, closed with “Mountain of Love”. Great fun.
I spoke with Buddy after the show. He claimed he wasn’t at the Daniel Lanois show. He didn’t get into town until that day.
We go see Buddy Miller twice the next day. Catching the end of his night set at the Cedar Courtyard. After that we head over to catch The Friends of Dino Marinez. Sitting on the floor watching the band is Buddy Miller. He must have came immediately from his show - he beat us there - just to catch this band as a fan. No mistaking him this time.
He watched a few more songs and left, looking very much like a secret agent man.