It’s a song of tribute to Charlie Poole, whose songs and unique banjo style were a staple of the pre-bluegrass period in the late 1920s. Jutz imagines Charlie and his North Carolina Ramblers in the western parts of the state where life was plenty hard during the depression years.
“One of the most beautiful aspects of writing within the bluegrass idiom is that characters like Charlie Poole and the environment they lived in still matter — they never went away and they’ll live on in the songs that we sing. I’m a traditionalist and preservationist at heart — and that’s why I love writing these kinds of story songs.
The Norfolk Southern Railroad ran through Asheville, right alongside the French Broad River from the 1880s. Surely Poole came through this area in his time. It was the perfect spot for warehouses and other industrial structures. Today the long-deserted old buildings are being rebuilt, and in my mind, Charlie and his North Carolina Ramblers are every bit as real and alive as the art studios, coffee shops, and breweries sprouting up in this ‘new’ part of ‘old’ Asheville. That’s why we shot this video there.”
Thomm is on guitar and lead vocal, with Justin Moses on banjo, Mike Compton on mandolin, Tammy Rogers on fiddle, and Mark Fain on bass.
Mill Town Blues is available now wherever you stream or download music online, and to radio programmers via AirPlay Direct. It will also be included on Thomm’s next Mountain Home project, To Live In Two Worlds, a 2-disc set expected next year. Two more singles from that album will drop next month.