There's nothing at all unusual about a hoedown in a honky-tonk, but one aboard a 2,300-person cruise ship doesn't exactly scream traditional. It's an idea about as left of center as the results: for the past two journeys of Cayamo, a roots-oriented music festival at sea, artists like Buddy Miller, Nikki Lane, Kacey Musgraves and the Lone Bellow have not only played portside sets for passengers, they've holed up in Miller's makeshift recording studio onboard to capture some special collaborations.
On January 29th, New West will release the sessions as Buddy Miller and Friends' Cayamo Sessions at Sea. His duet with Lane, a take on Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner's "Just Someone I Used to Know," premieres exclusively on Rolling Stone Country below.
"Collaborations on Cayamo have always been unforced and beautiful," Miller tells Rolling Stone Country, "and I’ve regretted not capturing them before. This album is just some of the many special moments that happen when so many great musicians get to spend a week together at sea."
First popularized by Wagoner and Parton's weepy, horn-laced version from their 1970 duets record Porter Wayne and Dolly Rebecca, Lane and Miller's "Just Someone I Used to Know" is warm and just a touch more devilish, thanks to their raspy tones and a slightly kicked-up melody, with fiddle stepping in for the original's brass section.
Lane makes no secret of her devotion to the Americana icon (and executive music producer of ABC's Nashville) — she even designed a striped "Buddy Fuckin' Miller" crop-top to wear onboard Cayamo – and their relationship dates back to when she was scouting ideas for her debut LP, Walk of Shame.
"I first heard of Buddy Miller when [producer] Dave Cobb suggested we cover his and [wife] Julie's 'Gasoline & Matches' on my first record and he's been part of the timeline ever since," Lane tells Rolling Stone Country. "After all, it was him that first asked my label New West to sign me for my last record, and I suspect he had something to do with me being on the list of lucky musicians that get to play Cayamo. But getting to sing alongside his band for performances like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, the Americana Awards ceremony, and the recordings on Cayamo have been highlights of my career. An incredibly talented and humble man who is always pushing others into that bit of limelight."
Cayamo Sessions at Sea also includes a version of Buck Owens' "Love's Gonna Live Here" with Musgraves, a take on John Prine's "Angel from Montgomery" with Brandi Carlile and the Lone Bellow, and the Conway Twitty/Loretta Lynn classic "After The Fire Is Gone" as imagined by Lee Ann Womack and Miller. Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams and more also make appearances on the 11-song compilation.
Miller, who hosts SiriusXM's "Buddy & Jim Radio Show," first brought recording equipment onto the Cayamo cruise in 2014 so he could continue to create his broadcasts at sea and capture a few performances — last year, he set up a makeshift studio in the lanes of the ship's bowling alley.
Lane is currently working on her third LP of unapologetic, trailer-thrashed country with producer Jonathan Wilson, tentatively titled Highway Queen – but she's always looking further down the road than just the next record, something she learned from her Cayamo duet partner.
"I'm in it for the long game," she told Rolling Stone Country in May. "This is great, and the past year has been wonderful. But what am I going to do when I am 50? You don't want to be the person sitting in the corner of the coffee shop who wrote that song. You want to be someone like Buddy Miller, who has found a way to position himself in a really creative industry. Because long game is the only way you can really call yourself an artist."
Here is the track list for Buddy Miller & Friends' Cayamo Sessions at Sea:
1. After the Fire Is Gone – with Lee Ann Womack
2. Love's Gonna Live Here – with Kacey Musgraves
3. Sunday Morning Coming Down – Kris Kristofferson
4. Just Someone I Used to Know – with Nikki Lane
5. Hickory Wind – with Lucinda Williams
6. Wedding Bells – with Richard Thompson
7. If Teardrops Were Pennies – with Elizabeth Cook
8. Wild Horses – with Shawn Colvin
9. Come Early Mornin’ – with Jill Andrews
10. Take the Hand of Jesus – with Doug Seegers
11. Angel from Montgomery – with Brandi Carlile and the Lone Bellow