The Big Lebowski turned twenty-five yesterday, marking a quarter century since Jimmie Dale Gilmore stole a scene as the line-stepping pacifistic bowler Smokey. But if Smokey’s your only reference point, here’s a quick recap. Born in Amarillo, raised in Lubbock, and based in Austin, Jimmie Dale Gilmore is a tried and true Texas music treasure of more than fifty years. Outside of his infectious Nelson-esque tenor, JDG’s longevity also lies within his collaborative spirit, most notably as co-founder of country supergroup The Flatlanders.
Then there’s Gilmore’s California colleague Dave Alvin, who cut his teeth as chief songwriter and lead guitarist for The Blasters before short stays with X, The Knitters, and The Flesh Eaters. Despite a ten-year age difference and complementary genre experiences, Dave and Jimmie both launched their solo careers in the mid-late ’80s. And although they crossed paths and fostered friendship for more than three decades, it wasn’t until 2018 that Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore formally teamed up on Downey to Lubbock. Even after two tough years of battling cancer, Alvin leveled out the less-loquacious Gilmore as both emcee and segue storyteller when they toured together as a duo last summer.
On top of that, Alvin and Gilmore actually just wrapped up a thirteen-date Southwestern U.S. tour last Saturday alongside their backing ensemble The Guilty Ones. Even more impressively, Alvin and Gilmore also released a new studio single about halfway through that recent time on the road. Inspired by Big Bend’s immense nation-dividing river canyons and the unique emotive energy they emit, “Borderland” is a beautifully-rugged Americana testament to unbridled love. And with a cast of archetypes that include an exhorting sheriff, a hitchhiking judge, a slick businessman, and stubborn guards, this rustic tale of romance begs to be heard for generations to come.