Thomm Jutz is the most recent prominent bluegrass songwriter to present himself as a vocalist as well. Jutz has been an A-list writer in Nashville for some time, since moving there in 2003 from his native Germany. He has written and produced music for artists in both country and bluegrass, but his own recordings typically hew to the ways of the grass.
For his next project on Mountain Home Music, To Live In Two Worlds, Thomm is taking a dualistic approach. He will be releasing pairs of singles prior to the full album release, which will consist of two volumes of new songs. Both the singles and the record will feature songs tracked with a full bluegrass band, and others performed solo with only guitar accompaniment.
An overall theme for this recording is telling tales from the history of the American south, starting with the first two singles which relate the life of North Carolina banjo man, Charlie Poole. Known as something of a rake and a rascal, Poole lived a hard-charging life, taking to excess may of the pleasures that tempt a young man on the road. He died at age 39 from alcohol poisoning, but left behind a rich legacy of songs that are still performed in contemporary settings. Charlie had developed a finger picking banjo style that predated its later evolution by players like Earl Scruggs, and his recordings with the North Carolina Ramblers are cherished by fans of old time music to this day.
Thomm admits that there is something special that draws him to Poole as a subject.
“It’s not just because of his music that Charlie Poole finds his way back into my subconscious and thus into my songwriting time and time again. Like most role models, he is the best and the worst — at the same time. He paid the price for how he lived and left a musical legacy that rings through today.”
In this video, we get a taste of Mill Town Blues, one of the new singles, with Jutz supported by Justin Moses on banjo, Mike Compton on mandolin, Tammy Rogers on fiddle, and Mark Fain on bass. Thomm also speaks a bit about Charlie and recording this song.
Mill Town Blues is available now wherever you stream or download music online, as is the companion single, I Long To Hear Them Testify, which shares stories of guitarists Blind Willie McTell and Skip James.