Taverned Into a House of Prayer

Last Updated on April 16, 2022

Buddy Miller / Justin Rutledge – February 23, 2005 – Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto, ON

From 1884 to 1909 the Junction grew from a small rural village to the City of West Toronto. The combination of railway access, cheap water for steam-driven machinery and tax free status made the Junction a successful industrial centre. All of this is gone now, the Canadian Pacific Railway closed its West Toronto station in 1964, but it was all brought back to life last night at the Horseshoe Tavern in the imagery of songs of Justin Rutledge and the Junction Forty with an unforgettable set that started at 9:30 p.m.

With his soft voice and playing acoustic guitar, Justin opened the evening with Special, an incredible set opener, from his debut album titled No Never Alone accompanied by pedal steel and a standup bass. “Well I wrote your name on the subway with a marker I stole from the drugstore, I don’t steal much, but sometimes I cave in.” he sang. Justin concluded his short set with the more up-tempo Lay Me Down Sweet Jesus singing those higher notes in a quivering, losing your voice kind of way when singing “Lay me down …”, “Lay me down …” as he was been accompanied by dobro which was a nice complement to his acoustic guitar. After forty minutes of great storytelling, I’m sure that those who were here for Buddy Miller, wrote down Justin’s name down because it won’t be the last time they hear of this homegrown talent.

A friend of mine (Dan Whiteley, from the Bluegrass band Crazy Strings) and former neighbour of mine plays mandolin on two songs from Justin’s album.

The Horseshoe is far from being a House of Prayer, but last Wednesday night’s 10:20 p.m. service sure turned the crowd into believers. Touring behind the spiritually rich Universal United House of Prayer, Buddy Miller and his three-man band prayed a 2 hr and 50 minute set.

Starting the evening with Shelter Me, Buddy’s great guitar playing was showcased along with Phil Maderia’s superb organ accompaniment , the musicianship was magical. Does My Ring Burn Your Finger and Price of Love which really took the place down with more amazing guitar and some mighty nice organ playing were next. At one point Buddy was facing Denny Bixby (on loan from Rodney Crowell) as both were playing guitar.

“It feels like home” Buddy told the gathering, “We have a setlist, we’re semi-pro professionals and if it happens to be the next song (someone had by then asked for a song to be played), we’ll play whatever you want”. He then went on to play My Love Will Follow You which was really nice with the accordion, stand-up bass (Bixby), drums (Bryan Owings) and Buddy on acoustic.

“A real church in Nashville was used for the photo of the album cover. Michael Wilson took the picture. This church stood between a muffler shop and a candy factory. There were three copies of this photo; one belonging to Buddy, one for the record company and one for Emmylou Harris. I hope that you like it” explained Buddy. “I played with Emmylou for 8-9 years” he continued, telling us that the record company wasn’t so sure about the name of the album (too long), but Emmylou said that that was the album cover and the name of the album. “When we went back to ask permission to use the photo, the place was boarded up and so we didn’t need permission” he finished telling us. The aforementioned story tied in well with There’s a Higher Power as this was the next song performed in this special musical sermon as you could hear the crowd singing along in response “There’s a higher power.” Worry To Much followed and was awesome.

Over the 25 year friendship with Jim Lauderdale, Buddy and Jim have collaborated to write some great songs. Buddy joked about the Grammys and how he had previously been nominated but lost to Bob Dylan, but it was cool to lose to him. “With me, the thing on my mind was food” he continued, and that in Nashville they had Mexican which was okay and Chinese where you had “meal and three”, explaining that it was “chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans” with everyone laughing. He joked on how he had been wearing this sparkly shirt for the 5th day in a row and that he went from Chicago to Los Angeles for the food dressed in his usual attire. “You get a button for losing, you just keep it in a pouch” he said jokingly again. You need to be dressed up for these awards and Buddy explained how he had received his jacket 30 minutes before the food court opened, laughing of course. Don’t Wait with the screaming guitar and great organ playing was rocking and absolutely incredible live.

That’s How I Got To Memphis was played with the acoustic guitar. Buddy hadn’t played that song since it came out. He then went on to tell the audience that he was going to perform a song of Julie’s that Emmylou covered on the Wrecking Ball album and that there was no point in doing a song once Emmylou had done it. All My Tears sounded great as Buddy stood there alone onstage until the rest of the band joined him back onstage.

Help Wanted sounded great live with a little of a drum solo and some nice guitar solo playing by Buddy.

Quecreek followed as Buddy told us about the mining accident a couple of years back in Pennsylvania and that Julie had written the song which was stuck on the end of the Midnight Lonesome album and that some of those miners would be at his Pittsburgh show two days later.

Someone in the crowd finally screaming out “Where’s Larry Campbell?”

“We have our R.V. that is thrashed with beer and we drove up here in the snow, that Larry plays for free. I didn’t want to give a wrong impression” Buddy continued jokingly.

It was fitting then that the night would finish with two encores with the incredible 9 minute long Dylan With God On Our Side and God’s Radar (Is Fixed On You).

This great musical sermon was over at 1:10 a.m.




Justin Rutledge

Federal Mail
The Suffering of Pepe O’Malley (Pt. III)
Too Sober To Sleep
Lay Me Down Sweet Jesus

Buddy Miller

Shelter Me
Does My Ring Burn Your Finger
Price of Love
My Love Will Follow You
There’s a Higher Power
Wide River to Cross
Worry Too Much
Don’t Wait
That’s How I Got To Memphis
All My Tears
Help Wanted
Showman’s Life (Jesse Winchester)
Little Bitty Kiss
Midnight and Lonesome
That’s How Strong My Love Is
You Can’t Judge a Book By The Cover (Willie Dixon)


When I Paint My Masterpiece (Bob Dylan)
Don’t Let That Deal Go Down
Rock Salt and Nails
Hole in My Head


With God On Our Side
God’s Radar (Is Fixed On You)

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