JIM LAUDERDALE 'When Carolina Comes Home Again (First Edition)' YEP-2695-CD

JIM LAUDERDALE 'When Carolina Comes Home Again (First Edition)' YEP-2695-CD

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First Edition includes Bonus songs "Trashcan Tomcat" and "Headed for The Hills" recorded at North Carolina Governor's Mansion.


A Grammy-winning icon of American music, Jim Lauderdale has always covered a wide range across the Americana spectrum, from rocked-up country to high lonesome bluegrass. In a very literal sense, he’s returning to his geographic as well as musical roots on his 33rd album, “When Carolina Comes Home Again,” out March 27 on Yep Roc Records.

The 13 tracks on “When Carolina Comes Home Again” are straight-up bluegrass, going back to the earliest music Lauderdale learned to play. The music is also rooted geographically, in Lauderdale’s home state of North Carolina – where he was born in Statesville and grew up in Troutman and Charlotte before attending the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Lauderdale had had it in mind to do an album paying tribute to his native state for a number of years and right now turned out to be the perfect time, given how much North Carolina has been in the national spotlight of late. The Old North State was the subject of the Oxford American’s annual Southern music issue in November 2018 with pieces on Earl Scruggs, Alice Gerrard, Rhiannon Giddens and other North Carolina musical icons past and present. North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper subsequently declared 2019 as North Carolina’s “Year of Music,” with an ongoing state arts council campaign called “Come Hear North Carolina.”

A good way to hear North Carolina is with the very dramatic “When Carolina Comes Home Again” title track, which Lauderdale co-wrote with John Oates – yes, that John Oates, Daryl Hall’s partner in the hugely popular blue-eyed soul-pop duo. Oates seems like a surprising co-writer for an uptempo, ominous-toned bluegrass song, but it’s less of a stretch than you’d think.

Lauderdale co-wrote other songs on “When Carolina Comes Again” with Songs From the Road Band bassist Charles R. Humphrey III and Steep Canyon Rangers banjo player Graham Sharp, both North Carolina-based. Songwriting partners from farther afield included the late Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter (one of Lauderdale's frequent collaborators over the years) as well as the songwriter/activist Si Kahn – who co-wrote “Cackalackey,” a raucous fiddle tune that declares North Carolina “always means home sweet home to me.”

“North Carolina has such a long and important heritage in bluegrass music,” Lauderdale says. “Since it’s where I’m originally from and where I started playing bluegrass, it seemed right to go back to my roots in bluegrass there and collaborate with musicians in that area. There’s just something in the atmosphere there. Hearing bluegrass in different areas and settings in North Carolina, the music is just there in the air. The first bluegrass festival I ever went to was Union Grove when I was 14 and it blew my mind. The music got into my bones and I just had to get a banjo.”