Singer

Jimmie Dale Gilmore is a Grammy-nominated, Texas-based country and Western singer. He and roots rocker Dave Alvin recently released the collaborative album Downey to Lubbock. Despite his prolific music career, Gilmore is perhaps best known for his brief but iconic role as Smokey in the cult classic The Big Lebowski. Gilmore and Alvin perform at The Saint, 761 S. Virginia St., 221-7451, on Wednesday, Oct. 3.

Tell me about the new record.

I’m extremely proud of it. It taps into a part of my music that I just barely touched on in earlier recordings. I did a few blues and kind of rockers on each one of my older records. But this one, I think, you’d probably call it a blues rock record. … It went to number one on the Billboard blues charts this summer, which was a surprise.

How did that collaboration come about?

We’ve been friends, very good friends, for a really long time—more than 30 years probably. We met through circumstances, not through playing together, but playing on shows together—different acts. And we got to be friends. And Dave also wrote some stuff about me back when Elektra was really publicizing me and nourishing my career. … Last year, Dave and I toured together, just the two of us, doing a duet show in which we discovered that we had a whole trove of old stuff that we were into when we were learning how to play. … So, Dave and I, as we did these duet shows, we discovered that we had even more in common than just friendship. We had a musical background and real similar taste. It was a great discovery.

When did you last play Reno?

Oh, it’s been a long time! The Flantlanders were there, but it’s been eight or nine years. … I haven’t been playing anywhere very much the last few years. I wasn’t really retired, but jokingly said I was. … I’ve always loved Nevada. I’ve never really spent much time there, but I love the high desert. I love the open feeling—of course, being from the flatlands. Reno is more scenic than Lubbock by far.

How’s Texas these days?

You know what’s really getting a lot of attention is the race between Ted Cruz and Beto [O’Rourke]. And Beto, he’s coming along really strong. I’m a big supporter of Beto.

How often do people say to you, “Over the line, Smokey!”

Oh, nearly every day! I love it. I love the movie. I love the Coen Brothers. If I was only ever going to be in one movie, I think that was a good choice. … I never had an ambition to be an actor. That’s not my thing. But Joel and Ethan and Frances McDormand were fans of mine from way, way back. … They used to come to my shows all the time after they got famous, after Raising Arizona. And we talked about me doing some music for their movies, which I would love. But they talked to my manager and said, “We want him to play a part in this movie we’re doing.” I told them, “This is crazy. I’m not an actor. I’m not trained for it. I’m a little bit camera-shy.” And they said, “No, we know what we want you to do. We’ll coach you.” They knew what they needed to do, and they did it. It makes people think that I know what I’m doing. And John [Goodman] was wonderful. I just loved him. He was just such a good guy, but on the day of the shooting, he was so mean to me that I was genuinely intimidated. I never have known if he was actually mad at me or it was just Method acting. But it worked, whatever it was. He was convincing. It felt like he actually was going to shoot me!