Jimmie Dale Gilmore and The Flatlanders perform at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth.

Jimmie Dale Gilmore and The Flatlanders perform at Billy Bob's Texas in Fort Worth.

File photo

Jimmie Dale Gilmore grew up in Lubbock, drawing from the same musical pedigree as Buddy Holly and Waylon Jennings. With fellow Panhandle natives Joe Ely and Butch Hancock, he formed the Flatlanders in 1972. That alone should set him apart.

But he also holds the distinction of appearing in a movie that became a cult classic. When Gilmore was hanging out on the set of The Big Lebowski, cast as a bowler named Smokey, he had no idea that millions of people all over the world would get to see his brush with Hollywood - and see it over and over again.

Butch Hancock & Jimmie Dale Gilmore & Sons

"I was doubly surprised" that the 1998 sleeper became such a hit, says Gilmore, who along with Hancock, Hancock's son Rory and his own son, Colin, will appear in a Father's Day concert at the Vagabond on Lower Greenville on Sunday.

"First of all, I thought it was a great movie. I thought it would be a big hit when it came out, but it wasn't. It didn't completely flop, but now, it's one of the hugest movies in the world. It was great. I got to hang out a lot with John Goodman and Jeff Bridges."

Ely won't be part of the Father's Day show, but he and Hancock and Gilmore have managed to keep the Flatlanders together for more than four decades, while each has pursued his own vision as a solo artist.

The fact that they grew up in the same region of the country as Holly and Roy Orbison inspired them all, Gilmore says, albeit indirectly.

"To this day, I'm a big fan of both of them. I don't know that they influenced my style, but they influenced me."

Gilmore loves the chance to play with his son and with Hancock and his son.

"Both of our boys have become exceptionally good musicians," Gilmore says. "Rory is a really, really good lead guitar player, and my son Colin is a really good songwriter and singer.

"We do this together, not constantly, but we do it a lot. We have all played a New Year's Eve show out in Marfa for five years now. We love it. Butch and I both love playing with our sons. It's a very interesting combination that we all enjoy."

Gilmore also loves reuniting with the Flatlanders, which continue to bring their own special sizzle.

"We're all still best friends," he says. "In fact, I saw Joe about 15 minutes ago. We both appeared in a documentary being made about Guy Clark. We hang out together when we're not playing together. They're still some of my favorite people, besides being some of my favorite musicians."

Ely and Hancock also share the distinction of having co-founded the Vagabond and contributed some of the artwork that hangs on its walls.

It's almost always memorable, Gilmore says, when the Flatlanders get together.

"We know each other so well that we'll start out with a set list and then veer off in any direction we want to go. We know each other's songs so well, and after all these years, we still love playing together."

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