As you probably know if you've been in any kind of contact with me in the last two months - either in the real world or social media - I'm making a documentary about Jim Lauderdale.
For the uninitiated, Jim is the best dressed man in Americana music. Writer of hit country tunes for George Strait, Patty Loveless, Blake Shelton, the Dixie Chicks and more, winner of 2 Grammys for his stellar, bluegrass albums, host of 2 radio shows and the annual Americana Music Awards and tai chi master.
I've been working in the country music industry here in Australia for the past five years and have been lucky enough to become friends with Jim. He may be the nicest man in show business. He's also had an unconventional, twisted kind of career and has worked with everyone from Elvis Costello to Willie Nelson.
We were touring the Beatles museum in Liverpool a couple of years ago when I got the notion that his life and career would make a great documentary film. I pitched it to Jim, he signed off and last June I took off to Music City, USA - otherwise known as Nashville. I got to interview folks like Buddy Miller, Gary Allan, Jerry Douglas and Randy Kohrs. Saw Jim get inducted into the Blue Ridge Hall of Fame. Fun times.
That footage ended up as a 45-minute documentary for Australia's Country Music Channel, which premiered last month and aired six or seven times across March. It was well received too. At the CMC Rocks the Hunter festival this year, one of the artists found out I was the director and hugged me.
But you can only tell so much story in 45-minutes, especially when you're paying for it all out of your own back pocket. So in the intervening period since wrapping filming last year, I got together with a great producer named Chris Kamen and we've been putting together a plan to return to the US and cut a swathe through Tennessee, California and North Carolina - capturing Jim on the road and in the studio and picking up interviews some of the collaborators I couldn't schedule the first time around.
To finance the second round of filming, we took to the crowdfunding site IndieGoGo. Over the past forty-five days, we've raised an astounding $10,783! We couldn't have done this without the support of people like the Americana Music Association, British film and television critic Boyd Hilton, Whispering Bob Harris, BBC Radio FiveLive's Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo and the incomparable Stephen Fry - who continues to be exceedingly nice to me for no good reason.
It's been damn inspiring to see the love for Jim and his music that people out there have. The comments accompanying donations about personal connections with songs and experiences with Jim over the years have made me doubly sure I'm right to tell his story. It also puts a pretty big weight of responsibility on my shoulders to not fuck this up.
The fundraising campaign is almost at an end - but don't fret! You can still
Every dollar helps. Lots of dollars help more! But seriously, I'm so grateful for everyone who's spared us some of their hard-earned cash. Y'all rock. And when I jump on a plane on Sunday to head to the US, you're the wind at my back.
See you on the LauderTrail!
- Jeremy Dylan