Nashville-based singer/guitarist Thomm Jutz presents the first of two all-original albums on the Mountain Home Music label. Originally from Germany, Jutz has become captivated by the music and history of the American South. Fourteen originals are presented here, co-written with Mark Milan, Trey Hensley, Tammy Rogers, Tim Stafford, Jon Weisberger, John Hadley, Charley Stefl, and Peter Cooper. Thomm’s fine lead vocals and exquisite guitar work are backed by Mark Fain, Tammy Rogers, Mike Compton, Justin Moses, Trey Hensley, and Mark Milan.
“Milltown Blues” is an uptempo tribute to Charlie Poole, who grew up in the cotton mill belt of the Piedmont region of North Carolina. The song captures Poole’s hardscrabble existence and the joyful exuberance of his popular, if not lucrative, music and career. “I Long To Hear Them Testify,” played in a 1920s bluesy guitar style, is a tribute to Blind Willie McTell, Skip James, and Charlie Poole. With a tangible longing for the past, Jutz says he has one foot in a world that’s gone and one foot here today. What I wouldn’t give to hear them sing and play. “Where The Bluebirds Call” begins with a delicate guitar melody and tells the story of English song collector Cecil Sharp. The story of “Barbara Allen” is quoted in the lyrics about a man looking for British ballads and tunes still alive in the Appalachian Mountains.
“Blind Alfred Reed,” who recorded for Ralph Peer in Bristol, walked three miles to set up on Temple Street in an un-named West Virginia town to sell his song sheets, playing for penny tips in a tin can. Visually impaired or not, he did what he could to support his family. In “Hartford’s Bend,” the steamboat captains still blow their whistles when they round the curve in the Cumberland River where the late John Hartford’s house stands. “Jimmie Rodgers Rode A Train” ends with a blue yodel guitar riff, and “Mighty Dark To Travel” borrows a line from Bill Monroe. You have to feel sorry for the protagonist in “Wilmer McLean,” a man who had the misfortune of seeing a cannonball come down his kitchen chimney in Manassas, Virginia during the first battle of the Civil War. You’ll have to listen to the rest of the song to hear what happened at his new house in Appomattox.
More and more artists are recording Thomm Jutz songs and for good reason. It’s great to hear the talented musician present his own music on this new solo effort. We’ll look forward to part two! (Mountain Home Music, P.O. Box 829, Arden, NC 28704, www.mountainhomemusiccompany.com.)NC