In 2014 the Madison Area Music Association gave Jim a lifetime achievement award for songwriting, the only such award ever given to a living songwriter. Jim followed it by releasing Bar Time Lovers, a collection of new original songs (some with co-writers) focused on the honky-tonk situation – these stories take place at the intersection of romance and alcohol. His usual sly humor and occasional pathos are still there in a variety of musical settings ranging from solo acoustic to full band. Jim called in some of his favorite playing partners – fiddle and mandolin player Chris Wagoner, bassist and â€˜cellist Mary Gaines, drummer Ethan Noordyk, and Jimâ€™s favorite dual guitar partner, the late Chris Aaron – along with pedal steel ace Leroy Deuster. There are three boy/girl duets sung with three different counterparts.
Standouts among the 15 new songs: “Goose and Gander” explores a manâ€™s rationalization for exploring extramarital opportunities and his wifeâ€™s reaction. In â€œBlues for Haleyâ€ a man falls in love with a stripper. The jazzy â€œPerfect Matchâ€ concerns on-line dating while “Dia de Muertos” chronicles mescal-fueled romance with a tongue-in-cheek Tex-Mex polka. â€œThe Phone Callâ€ details the most pathetic barroom phone call to an ex youâ€™ll ever hear, “Mary Magdalena” describes a wet dream of a party girl, and the haunting “Last Call” finds its poor protagonist hearing those words one too many times. Â “Make Believe” won the Madison Area Music Association award for best country song of the year.