"We finish each other's senten-" Lauderdale began, raising an eyebrow at his partner.
Miller stepped in to close: "-ces."
Loosely speaking, Miller and Lauderdale, whose songs have been recorded by George Strait and Emmylou Harris, fall under the heading of alt-country: A recent promotion dubbed them "Americana's Sweethearts." But though their 90-minute set included covers of George Jones and the Everly Brothers, they also dipped into the discographies of Joe Tex and blues pianist Jimmy McCracklin. "It Hurts Me," written by Buddy's wife, Julie Miller, had the tear-in-my-beer simplicity of a honky-tonk standard, but the low-register throb of Miller's electric guitar kept many a song from lapsing into mere traditionalism.
Each man took a turn alone at the microphone, Lauderdale's preceded by a winking monologue about how he could do anything with this band behind him, uttered as the members filed offstage in the background. For his "I Love You More," which he recently recorded with Nick Lowe's backing band, he shifted his voice into a high, breathy register as though auditioning for '70s soft-rockers Bread; Miller's solo "All My Tears (Be Washed Away)" was an impassioned spiritual, heavy with intimations of mortality. But together they tended toward the up-tempo, like the second-line bounce of "South in New Orleans." It's easy to be down in the dumps when you're alone, but when when an old friend comes to town, things start looking up.