Jim Lauderdale’s love for music and the Carolinas remains strong. ‘I’m compelled to create.’

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World of Bluegrass 2018

The International Bluegrass Music Association conference, awards ceremony, Bluegrass Ramble and World of Bluegrass is in Raleigh, NC, Sept. 25-29, 2018. Find our stories here.

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Whenever Jim Lauderdale returns to Durham, he visits the Carolina Friends School, which had quite an impact on the 1975 alum.

“I go back because I had some of the happiest times of my life while going to that school from when I was 16 until I was 18,” Lauderdale says while calling from his Nashville, Tenn., home. “I loved being there and I loved living in that area.”

Lauderdale, 57, grew up in Charlotte and Due West, S.C., before moving to Durham.

“The Carolinas helped form me as not only a musician but as a human being,” Lauderdale says. “I like to be there as often as I can.”

Lauderdale, who has a staggering 31 albums to his credit, has a home in Flat Rock near Asheville. Last year, he was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame.

Jim Lauderdale.jpg
Jim Lauderdale is one of the hosts at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards. Scott Simontacchi

“There’s just something about North Carolina,” Lauderdale says. “The people are so friendly, and there is the music that you experience by being from there.”

Music was a constant in Lauderdale’s world as a child. His mother was a chorus teacher and his father was a preacher.

“So my father sang before his congregation, and he had this big booming voice,” Lauderdale recalls. “I remember my sister buying Beatles and Peter, Paul and Mary records.”

Lauderdale worshipped the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin as a teenager. But when he was finishing up at the Carolina Friends School, Lauderdale became immersed in folk and bluegrass.

“If you’re in North Carolina, you can’t help but be touched by bluegrass,” Lauderdale says.

“But I love all styles of music.”

That’s evident. Country, roots-rock, blues, rock, bluegrass and R&B are some of the genres Lauderdale has experimented with during his 30-year career.

“I’m moved by many different styles of music,” Lauderdale says. “It’s about different styles of music and it’s about writing the best songs you can write.”

Lauderdale is one of the most respected songsmiths in Music City. George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and Elvis Costello have recorded Lauderdale’s songs.

“I’ve been fortunate since the songs of mine that have been recorded helped me make a living,” Lauderdale says. “George Strait has recorded 15 of my songs. It helped me not have to worry about trying to make a go of it as a solo recording artist.”

Lauderdale has two upcoming performances in the Triangle. He will perform Sept. 22 at the Pinhook in Durham with Mipso’s Libby Rodenbough as an opener. He is touring to support his latest album, “Time Flies,” an eclectic album of carefree country and potent roots-rock.

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He will then perform during the free part of the International Bluegrass Music Association free Wide Open Bluegrass street festival. He’s scheduled to perform on the Hargett Street stage Friday, Sept. 28 at 5:30 p.m.

“I’m often asked why I continue to make albums, and the reason is simple,” Lauderdale says. “I’m compelled to create. I feel more of an urgency to write now than I did in the past. I have all of this experience.”

It isn’t easy for Lauderdale to pen a setlist since his canon is so deep.

“But that’s a good problem to have,” Lauderdale says. “I’ll do my best to come up with a good list when I come back to where I have so many great memories. I remember as a teenager playing with some old friends, Rick Bouley and Zan McLeod. We lived in Chapel Hill and we would get together and play our hearts out back then.”

The prolific Lauderdale continues to write, record and tour. “I don’t know what else I would do,” Lauderdale says. “This is what I’m passionate about and this is what I’ve always been passionate about.”


Who: Jim Lauderdale with Libby Rodenbough of Mipso

When: 8 p.m. Sept. 22

Where: The Pinhook, 117 W. Main St., Durham

Tickets: $15

Info: 984-244-7243, thepinhook.com

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