The Flatlanders: The Big Three Return


The Flatlanders (300)

From left to right, The Flatlanders: Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely. Will Van Overbeek hide caption

itoggle caption Will Van Overbeek

Jimmie Dale Gilmore, Butch Hancock and Joe Ely: For Texans, their names represent a sort of musical holy trinity. As individuals, they've amassed a remarkable array of accomplishments. Collectively, as The Flatlanders, they're a Texas supergroup with an increasingly formidable catalog in its own right.

In 1972, the three men first convened in the dusty West Texas town of Lubbock to little mainstream fanfare. Throughout the next decade, however — as they made names for themselves as singular performers — more and more fans wondered what these three luminaries sounded like together. They ended up taking 30 years between their first and second albums, but the three have since recorded together at a less leisurely pace: Hills and Valleys, their new album, is their third since 2002.

Gilmore, Hancock and Ely recently stopped by the KUT Studios in Austin, Texas, on the eve of their tour to explain the philosophical and existential resonance of the new album, as well as the ups and downs of the songs that led to the title. The significance of the film The Horse Whisperer even enters the discussion — and, for the uninitiated, they also tell the story of the group's birth.

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