Thomm Jutz- Grammy Nominated Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Guitarist

Thomm Jutz- Grammy Nominated Singer, Songwriter, Producer and Guitarist

Ashley Rindsberg
photo courtesy of Thomm Jutz- taken by Anthony Scarlati

Thomm Jutz is a German-born American singer, songwriter, producer and guitarist based in Nashville, Tennessee.He has worked with folk singer Nanci Griffith (as a member of her Blue Moon Orchestra), Eric Brace & Peter Cooper, Mary Gauthier, Mac Wiseman, Bobby Bare, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart, David Olney, Otis Gibbs, Kim Richey, Bill Anderson, Amy Speace,[1] Milan Miller and Marc Marshall.[2]

His songs have been recorded by Nanci Griffith, John Prine, Kim Richey, Junior Sisk, Kenny and Amanda Smith, Balsam Range, Buddy Melton, Milan Miller and Terry Baucom.[3]Jutz co-wrote the top two singles of 2016 listed on the Bluegrass Today Airplay chart. Jutz signed with Mountain Home Music Company in 2019. New albums "To Live in Two Worlds – Vol 1 & 2" were released in 2020. Singles "Mill Town Blues", "I Long to Hear Them Testify", "Hartford's Bend" and "Jimmie Rodgers Rode a Train" were released in 2019. He also signed as a writer with Asheville Music Publishing in 2018.[4] "To Live In Two Worlds, Vol 1" was nominated for a 2021 Grammy Award in the Bluegrass category.[5]

Awards:Grammy Nomination for Best Bluegrass Album 2020, IBMA Songwriter of the Year 2021, Recipient of two SESAC Awards, Nominated for IBMA Songwriter of the Year in 2017, 2018, 2019, Nominated for IBMA Album of the Year in 2017

Teaching:Lecturer in the Songwriting Department at Belmont University in Nashville

For more on Thomm's work:

Follow him on social: @THOMMJUTZ

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Ashley Rindsberg: So Thomm Jutz thank you so much for being here on theBurning Castle Podcast. I want us to start out by saying something that's really, to me significant, which is that you are, a Grammy nominated singer songwriter. You've got, if you can correct me if I'm wrong here, but you've got four solo albums, six collaborative albums, including an album from this year. "I Surely Will Be Singing" and you have produced many more albums with other people, other performers. And to me that says something really profound, which is you're a working artist. You're the guy doing the thing that so many people dream of doing, and I want to understand, what's it like for you to be in that position? What does it feel like? And what does your day look like on account of this role that you're playing?

Thomm Jutz: Okay. Well, my day looks like this. I typically get up between five and 6, 6 30, something like that. And then I tried to go outside as soon as possible. We live about 30 minutes east of Nashville, Tennessee on a small peninsula, in a big lake called Percy priest lake. That's a man-made lake that was making the 16. So we can this, this is somewhat unusual for American living. We can just walk outside the door and start walking and be in nature. And so that's the first thing that I do in the morning. I walk I have sort of a six mile minimum that I want to do every day. That just helps me to clear my head and to be by myself or if my wife is coming with me , it's a good time for us to talk.

Ashley Rindsberg: That's a long walk, I mean, duration. And just in terms of well over an hour, I would imagine.

Thomm Jutz: Yeah. A little over an hour, but once you come in it's not strenuous or anything. It's just a good, it's just a good way to, to get your day started. And then I take care of my correspondence my email and stuff. Then we typically have breakfast together and we both started working. My wife is working from home. I worked from home for the most part and, you know it's people, I have people that perceive me as, as this work horse personality, but I don't necessarily see that in myself so much. I hardly ever work longer than six o'clock in the evening. I just maybe plan or I could, I think once I dedicate to doing something, I probably have somewhat clear idea what I'm going to do. And then it's just a matter of executing it correctly.

And I think being by myself in the morning helps with that. I can organize my thoughts and how am I going to approach this? How am I going to approach this? And some of this was probably born out of necessity. When I moved here in 2003 to Nashville, I knew some people, but it's not like I had connections in terms of work or studios stuff or whatever. So I felt to some degree that I had to make stuff happen. And that became the role that, that became my role. You know, I'm the facilitator, I'm the guy who comes up with the idea for a project. I'm the guy. I feel like I'm often the guy who pushes a little more than others. And that's what it feels like to me, but I like it too. I enjoy it, you know.

Ashley Rindsberg: You know, I think it's something that people miss and it's a really important point, which is that if you are working in anything, but in something that's, that is certainly in the arts and culture and even in entrepreneurial skills, spheres, of course. You get out of it, what you put into it. And I don't mean in terms of inner rewards. I mean, in terms of action, activity, energy all the stuff that you need to get something moving and keep it in motion. What goes in, comes out. And I think people have this tendency to just wait for something to happen. Wait for someone to say yes and give them permission, but it doesn't really work like that. And that obviously sounds like your experience as well.

Thomm Jutz:

No, you're, you're a hundred percent, right? I think first of all, you can’t wait for anybody else to give you permission. You have to just forge ahead and do what you think you want to do. And also, I think one of the common misperceptions is that creativity is based on inspiration only, and it's really not. You can develop habits to find,  to go towards inspiration that might not always just being some kind of waiting mode. The muse does not flow through the window and then you write your masterpiece. That's just a myth. It's a con, it's a convenient myth because it gives a lot of it's because it’s a nice excuse for not doing much.

You know, as a writer and as a producer and an instrumentalist, I mean, all these crafts need to be practiced. Not just, you don't just have to practice the violin to be able to play a violin concerto. You also have to practice writing and practice create being creative. And you know, so to me, it's all, it's fun. I'd like to keep an eye on. An element of playfulness involved is important to me, you know, like, and I think you put this really well, giving yourself permission to do that is very important. Most people go like, or most people are just afraid to sit down and go like, well, what if my song doesn't turn out perfect? Or what if my painting is not perfect? First of all they're show me perfection. What's perfect. I don't know Mozart probably would have said that none of his pieces were perfect. He probably thought they were good, but so it's that, and I've always had, I feel like I've always had that as a child, too.

I was a creative kid and I just carried that with me, you know? And it's it's that, urge to be creative is what drives and still drives me.

Ashley Rindsberg: I think there's also something in your chosen genre of music, would you know, which is bluegrass? If I'm right about that, I'm not a hundred percent on where I had a great conversation on this podcast with Kyle Coroneos of 'Saving Country Music'. And he was really trying to walk me through the country music universe. So I understand the shades of it. So I'm paying attention more, but I know, the you were nominated, I'm sorry, for, for the Grammy in a bluegrass best bluegrass album, but your music might be beyond that. So maybe just give us a little sense of, of the context.

Thomm Jutz: First of all, bluegrass is a very distinct musical style. It's really the way we, we think about it today, the instrumentation and all that only started in 1944/1945 so it's a relatively young genre, but the origins of it go back hundreds of years to Scotland and Ireland. And I don't perceive myself 100% as a bluegrass artists. I didn't grow up in that environment. But it's, it's music that I love for many different reasons, but yeah. I also think that it's obviously it's important, to push, to expand the boundaries of the shore a little bit in a lot of people are doing that by making it by playing very progressive versions of that music.

People like, you know, if you think about people like Bela Fleck, or younger generation people like Sarah Hall who are doing that, my approach is a little differently. I tried to incorporate the older versions of that and the origins of it that to some degree are in old time country music I tried to bring that in. And so, but you can do something different by doing something new, but you can also do something different by doing something that's a little older. And I think that helped with that Grammy nomination, but I don't necessarily think of myself of a bluegrass song writer or bluegrass artist that's more American

distinctly form distinct forms of American music are all interconnected at some point, you know the blues country, music, folk music. And if you're talking about folk music in the sense of the music that the Scots Irish brought over, all that stuff is, is interrelated. And that's, that's the interesting part about American music, you know?

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. And I think there's also a really a deeper point there as well, which is that America as a country founded on a concept of Liberty and independence, which was a radical idea at that time that gave birth to forms of music that are really independent minded. You know, I feel like the, country seen at least the, you know, from my understanding in bluegrass and different kinds of country, you've got an independent spirit and an independent way to do the music and to make the music a little bit more independently than some of the stuff that we're seeing in broader pop culture and pop music. And I think when I look at your work, and your discography, and to see how much you're able to produce and how you not waiting.

Gaps in time to do the next thing again, that's about not having to ask someone permission. I imagine you can move to take that spirit of independence, get together with two or three or four of the people in, around you are there, or that, you know, from the, the field that you're in and just do it, do the thing.

Thomm Jutz: Yeah. I mean, isn't that part? I think you're very right. That this is part of the American spirit and that's in part, what attracted me to move to this country from central Europe? It seems like there's too much conceptualizing going on there. And for my taste, at least there was, and here people just go, sure, you got to, you got an idea, go ahead and do it.

And where I was born in Germany, people would go like, well, that's not probably not going to work. And, you know, and here it's just like, well, give it, give it a whirl. Good for you. You know, that's the American attitude. And if you look at the origins of bluegrass music, people like Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers and Jimmy Martin, they were, and the Osborne brothers, they were innovators. You know, they, Bill Monroe was, was really mad when he thought that people were copying his music because he came up with this thing by himself influenced by a black guitar player. And then by the, by the fiddle playing of his uncle and he put those things together and he wanted to have the blues in his music and, and the Irish influence in all of that.

I think being innovative is built into the origin of this music. And obviously because of the racial diversity in the United States and people living so close together and the concept of, you know, cultural appropriation that it's okay for me to play blues. And it's okay for a black guy to write an opera. All of that. I mean, people are, you know, this is, this is the interesting part about America. This is where literally the rubber meets the road and, and that, that friction, you know, a wheel is not going to roll if there's not a road to give some resistance. And, and I think culturally that still works well in America.

Although a lot of things don't work well in America anymore, or at least at the moment, but that part still works. And the growing awareness for those fans of music, especially among young. It's amazing. And the number of young people that are studying this music and art incredible instrumentalists is, has inspired a certain university programs that focus on that and come to come to it from a, from an academic viewpoint and all that. Isn't incredibly exciting to me.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. And it's, you know, this spreading, I know we've got here in Israel. A pretty well-known band that broke out four or five, six years ago that it's really quite blue bluegrassy and folk, folk, American folk, and, you know, singing in English and they're in, in Israel. And I think that's probably something, you know, Kyle from 'Saving Country Music' talked a lot about that, that you've got this all around the world. People have embraced this form of music. That is, that is, you know, at least partially originated from America. It's got a deeper roots, but I think that's quite an interesting thing because people really do take up the spirit of freedom, but that's something that is really universal. Everybody understands that it's not to say it's uniquely American it's of course it's not, but America has, as you, as you put your finger on America has understood something about it that uniquely applies to contemporary life.

So, you know, going back to your point of coming from Germany and being, you know, in an outsider who may be, sort of became an insider in the US how had, how did that affect your journey as an artist and a songwriter and a musician? What do you still feel a bit like an outsider looking in, or do you feel like you are so within the culture, in the U S that you are able to now look from the U.S. outward or both?

Thomm Jutz: I'd say both. I think within the community of people that I'm collaborating with, they don't view me as an outsider anymore. I think in the broader context, some people might still do that, but that's a reality when you move to a different country that you're never going to 100% get rid of. And the question is also if you, if you want to get rid of it all the way, I mean, sure.

I could take acting, or I could take classes with an actor and lose the last 10% of my German accent and all that. And if I had more time to do that, I might, I might want to do that just as an experiment, but you know, you still, you still bring your biography with you, even if it's, if it's in your, if it's in your subconscious or in your value system or in your in the history that you've inherited for better or worse, in my case but for the most part, America is incredibly welcoming and America always likes to celebrate the success of the outsider as not so much in, if it's at least if it's somebody who's from, well, let let's stop there. I think America, the average American likes to celebrate the underdog

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, I think that's true. And I do think it's a good point about celebrating the success of the outsider. And I do think there's probably a Covey out there, but of course we don't need to necessarily split it out on this podcast.

Thomm Jutz: But now let me answer to ask one more thing that I think you've made an excellent point. You know, the concept of freedom, and as it's expressed in this music is also comes from the fact that you can put five people- guitar banjo mandolin, upright bass and adobo, or fiddle in a room. And it's perfect. There's nothing else you need to do to that. It mixes itself. That's the perfect sound for that music. Everything else when you're trying to recreate that in the studio is somewhat of a Zen effort because you're trying to make, you're trying to catch something that's already perfect. And how are you going to make that more perfect instead, but by any other means than leaving it alone. And I think people all over the world are picking up on that concept that.

Musician friendly thing that you can, you don't need a PA you don't need microphones. You don't need a band, you just get together and play and it's perfect. And, and people love that spirit of yeah, there's a. I think that's the point that I'm trying to make.

Ashley Rindsberg: Well, I think what the reason people love it so much is because you're able to take the power of creativity for yourself without having someone else handed to you. And you're able to get your four guys together. If you can get past that hurdle. I think most of us can, if we want to, then you can make the music that you want. And I think that, you know, that's something I've, I've been talking about on this podcast with other musicians, Kate Schutt, and with Mark Daumail , who's a platinum selling artist in France and soon to be soon coming up as Coleman Hughes, who's a hip hop artist is that these people are understanding.

And they all come from different backgrounds, musically, and also with, with regard to the music industry, Mark Daumail of 'Cocoon' was within the French music industry for 25 years until, he suddenly wasn't his record label collapsed and he got the rights back to his music and he started doing it on his own because he could.

And Kate Schutt’s cases, a bit of a different story. Also an interesting story, but the point here is that people are starting to understand the power of independence and the capability to be independent today, which is probably just, it's been in a very, very long time. And I think that's something that we're seeing something really comes back to something again, that is core to country music core. And just as you put it, if you have those four or five players and, and instruments together in a room you're complete, and that wasn't, that's not the case with many kinds of music, but I think that is something quite unique.

Thomm Jutz: Yeah. I mean, that's where the digital age is sort of coming full circle with the general musician of the 16th and 17th century who can pack, pack up his instrument and go from castle to castle and play. And today you can, whether you're a hip hop artist or a bluegrass musician, if you have a basic recording set up, you can make your music. And a couple hours later, it can be out there and you can be, you have an audience.

And if you, if you think about it in terms of country music, And the forties and fifties or sixties, men, artists like Laura Lynn were recording. I mean, they literally were in the studio in the morning and in the afternoon they had a test pressing when they were in the car, going from radio station to radio station from a promoting the songs. And we're doing that again today and it's a completely singles driven market, which is what it was then. So, you know, it's like going forward, going backward at the same time. And obviously now you know, we have this conceived level playing field, which I think philosophically is a good thing. It's but it's not always a good thing for the quality of the music necessarily, but that's, again, that's another conversation, but I think it's a really, it's a really exciting time for people who don't want to work with a label for people who want, like me who want to put out a lot of music in a relatively quick succession.

Although I do work with a small label. The operative word here is that it's a small label that is willing and capable of making quick decisions and not a big machine that works at pleasure.

Ashley Rindsberg: Right. And I think for people to understand that there is a choice that lies there, that's an important choice, which is a choice between having Some sort of control over, over the process, not total, but partial at least. And having things in maybe a more suitable proportion, because it gives you other things. It gives you other abilities, meaning speed or creative freedom that you won't have with a corporate machine. You just can't. And people are resentful of that fact sometimes, but it doesn't change the fact that is a corporation that has a share price to protect. It's doing fiduciary duties that have nothing to do with art or music or even the fans. And definitely not the artist. So it's a choice that you make because often I think people feel victimized by the industry because they can't get in or they've been shut out, et cetera.

But it's really not a, it's not an issue of victimhood. It's an issue of making a decision there. And I think that's something that people, when they open their eyes to, that they're able to reconceive of their place within that field. They don't have to be within the industry to succeed

Thomm Jutz: 100%. I think that's, that's all so good and correct what you're saying there. I, I see some of that with, I teach a couple hours a week at a university here in Nashville and the song in a song writing program. And I see students that have, you know, get like 30 million views on Tik Tok within two weeks and then have offers from every major label of music row and they're 18 or 19 years old. And they're obviously on top of the world about it. And I'm trying to say a little bit of caution, not because those people are evil, those labels are evil, but you're going to be a part of the big machine literally. And they're not going to hand you 20,000 bucks and go shopping. And then we'll, we'll call you back when we need you.

You're going to work like crazy for that machine. And you're not necessarily going to be reimbursed or ask for it or ask whether this is what you want to do. And so you're very right that or correct that at this point in the music industry, you make those decisions, whether you want to be a part of that or not, obviously I'm 52 years old, nobody's going to sign me to any major label and that's, that's totally cool. But what I'm doing is much more suitable to my, the way I want to express myself and to my level of productivity. So I think it's a great point that it's all based on decisions, everything it has to be intentional because there's so many options at the moment or in this world that if you have to be very clear about what you're, what you expect from yourself.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah. It's an important word. The word you just used intentional, it's kind of gets thrown around a lot today, but it really is the core of everything. I think people miss that without intentionality, nothing will work. And with a lot of it, it will absolutely work guaranteed. At least in some fashion it'll work by, by what you put into it and what you desire out of it.

You know, I want to turn to a bit of a different topic, which is about the process itself. I've read an essay that you wrote about songwriting and in it you use you write that in a nutshell, my job as a songwriter is to pay attention. And I, you know, that jumped out at me right away. And what it makes me wonder is to pay attention to what and how to pay attention and exactly what that does to, to be paying attention so much and so diligently.

Thomm Jutz: Well to me, it starts with another thing that I say in that essay is that a lot of ideas to me start with images and the, the process of paying attention. As a songwriter with me starts with me it starts with an image as well. I literally visualize a part of my brain on the right side, in the back of my brain as a part that constantly pays attention to what's going on around me, whether I'm having a conversation, whether I'm walking, whether I'm watching TV, whether I'm reading a book it's, it's always on.

And it's a stream of it's. It's the opposite of stream of consciousness. You're not letting everything out, but you're taking everything. And it's, I think they work together. I think both practices work together. So I that's, that's what I mean by paying attention.

Ashley Rindsberg: Can we pause there?

I want to, I just want. Emphasize that a little bit more. So that part of you that is walking around constantly paying attention. It's almost, it's in a state of receptivity, right? It's not the blabber cause we all have the blabber, a lot of blabber and it's hard to quiet it. You're not, it's not, that's not what you're talking about.

You're talking about something that enables you to, to be a little bit quiet and a little bit still so that you're seeing. What is happening around you and being sensitive to it?

Thomm Jutz: Yes, it's, it's, it's not the blabber it's filtered. It's, there's a great practice that that's recommended in a book called "The Artist's Way" where you ride three pages of longhand stream consciousness. You do that first thing in the morning and over a period of half year or a year. You will realize how much more structured your stream of consciousness becomes. And I think doing that and practicing that works the other way around too. What comes in becomes filtered too, but it's not by an editorial process.

It's just, it happens that way. It's like, it's like any other practice. If somebody is a great yoga practitioner, it's still probably difficult to do this, but it's also not difficult at the same time. And , and so that's how I think about it. Tom T hall, who's one of the greatest songwriters ever, and who is as a dear friend said songwriters are bad songwriters. People are good songs. Hmm. So when you, if you sit down and have a blank piece of paper in front of you and a guitar and go like I'm a song writer and I have to ride my masterpiece now, I think you're totally doomed. You know, you, if you walk around and you talk to your neighbor across the street, and he says something that gets your attention, or you know, That's where this stuff comes from.

Those are the images that, that I want to write about. I think too many songwriters for my tastes write about their internal life and that's cool. But if that's not done in a, in a way that's universally understandable, what's the value of that. Right. And so to me, I've tried to come to it from a different angle. Write about the things that are outside of me, I'm always going to be in it because it's my way of my perception of these things. So of course, there's songwriters who would probably accuse me of not being brave enough to write about my inner world or this or that. But I don't, I don't fully accept that.

I also think that there's a part of us that does not need to be expressed in the written word. And again, Tom T. Hall said in your song give some of what, you know, way, but not all of what, you know, and that's also, it makes for a better song because at least something up for the interpretation of the listener. And so in that sense I resent a little bit the idea that songwriting is this, this psychotherapy P thing. I also don't think that we're, that we're necessarily equipped or educated enough as songwriters to approach it like that in workshops and things like that. That's a little bit of how I, how paying attention ties in.

Like I'm just looking out the window and there's a guy walking by with a dog who I see every, I've seen him for 16 years every morning. And it's still interesting, you know, like paying attention for me, for instance, my wife and I play this game and we're walking that we, before we can see who it is, we try to figure out who it is by the way they walk. And it's really interesting after a while you were like, oh yeah, that's that's Maria Smalls. And it's just, you can train all of those things to me, they all find their way into songwriting.

Ashley Rindsberg: And I think that's also you know, some of it it's in the way you know, setting that you're in, which sounds a little bit more connected to nature where you have space and stillness and time to be able to differentiate between things in the blur of a city. It can be just too much to you. You're just end up rushed, pulled along by the throng. Which I also think is interesting. And it's something to, you know, you'd mentioned Julia Cameron's book, "The Artist's Way". And one thing she recommends is what you had talked about, which is the page writing every morning, long hand, three pages of two page, whatever it is.

And then the other thing is that artist's date where she's saying once a week, you go and do something for you as, as the artist, as the creator that respects that moment in that time. Is that something you also, do you, do you do an artist state?

Thomm Jutz: Well, I think walking in the morning every day here in nature does that for me?

Ashley Rindsberg: Yeah, that makes sense. The other thing in there, I say that jumped out is the sentence, the TV in our house stays pretty much all the time. And I think that's, it's such a counterpoint to the rest of the culture because we are a Netflix culture. We, what gets the conversation warmed up between people's like, did you see the latest episode of this or that? What it does to us is it kind of cannibalizes our perspective because you're lost in some other perspective that is fictional and it blots out your own perspective as a human being and exactly what you were talking about before, which is being in that state of receptivity is being in a state of, of really purified or filtered perspective.

And TVs shuts them down as creative and great as it can be. Obliterates is that why the TV's not on it, I imagine. Or are there other reasons?

Thomm Jutz: No, it's exactly that. I don't want to constantly have somebody talking at me. We've just recently updated our TV, so we have the capacity to stream. But we're using it in a way that we go like, I've heard something about Buster Keaton and I'm really interested in that. Let's watch a documentary about Buster Keaton, but we're not watching three or four a day and probably not even three or four a week. We might watch one a week. And then typically what we'll do is we'll go back and watch it one more time. So we don't miss the subtleties, but one of the saddest things to me is to walk around or drive through Nashville or something, or you see it more when you were walking and it's like seven or eight in the morning and you see that the TV is on in a house. It's like, what, what kind of life is that? You know? I mean, sure. I understand. If you want to watch the news or see what the weather is like, but to me it indicates that it's going to stay on the whole day and it's just becomes this other reality. That's constantly on.

Ashley Rindsberg: I think it's for people, a balm for loneliness. They wake up in there, they're lonely and they put the TV on and you have a false friend there, a fair-weather friend, but it's not real. It's just

Thomm Jutz: Well, and it permeates that loneliness, you know, it doubles up on it really doesn't make anything better. But also I'm not down on TV. I think I actually ride quite a bit of music for TV and movie, and that's becoming a good. Source of income to facilitate some other things. So I don't try to, to be down on the medium. I think at the moment there's actually really, really cool stuff going on. Like my wife and I really enjoyed watching the first three episodes of the marvelous Mrs. Maisel, just because it was the production values were so incredible in the casting and the writing. About a topic that we typically wouldn't if somebody would tell me, well, here's a standup comedian female center comedian, late fifties. That's watched 18 episodes of that. No, I don't think so.

Ashley Rindsberg: But yeah. In Jewish, New York, yes. Yeah, it is great. And I think it's like any other tool or technology, it's how you use it and that what you were saying. I think people often ask me, you know, wrote recently a book about the New York times and about the influence of journalism and media on our society. And people have asked me, what's the solution.

Like if they're selling us a corrupt product, my answer is to flip your modality from browse to search, go stop. Just passively consuming this stuff with your mouth open, like you're like there's some kind of whale just taking plankton and go become the shark where you're finding the stuff that's really important to you and spend your time, your precious time on the stuff that really matters. And that is that nurtures something in and nurture something around you. And that's what, you know, 99% of the time, we are not able to do that. Most of us think 1% maybe we can, but I think if you're able to live in that modality of search and searching for things that matter, and that have meaning, then you don't need the TV on at 7:00 AM and then it's an intrusion.

Thomm Jutz: I absolutely agree. I often so I described my artistic pursuits or creative pursuits as, as a dog with a really alert you know, sense of smell who just goes like, oh, here's something let's follow that. And it's not like a dog, doesn't go like, oh, here's something and here's something else. And here's something else, a Coonhound we'll go after one thing and run and run and run and run until he finds that very thing. And that's different than that's a different attitude than saying let's turn on the TV and see what's there that I possibly might be interested in. That's a completely different action. If you go, I'm interested in that. Let's use this tool to find, to learn everything I can about it. And of course, moving pictures can be extremely inspiring just as any image can be in.

Ashley Rindsberg: Yes, definitely. I think that's you know, the beginning of the great movie 'Trainspotting' where he's giving that little monologue about choose life, which is a biblical reference. But I think in addition to choosing life in general, it's choosing your life because I choose life generally to opt to live is to opt, to live in a specific way to make a choice what kind of life you want to need. And I think that's also you know, part and parcel to that is deciding what do you want to give to the world? If you can answer that question. I think you can help answer the question. What is your life that you choose?

Thomm Jutz: Definitely. When I mean in my life, when I was 11 years old, I saw the great country singer Bobby Bear on it on a TV show in Germany. He was playing two songs, one called "Detroit City"and one called "Tequila, Sheila". And that image inspired me to do what I do to this day. I mean, there has not been one moment where that image has not been the guiding light to what I, what I want to do. And I knew it at 11 years old, this is all I'm going to do. And that's the power of the subconscious mind and the power of archetypes that speak to, to your subconscious.

And, and I'm extremely lucky that I get to do this, you know, and I try to, while you talk about giving back, I mean, I, I just try to, I try to do good music and maybe try to find some aspects in the music that, that, that have been overlooked. Or not been focused on, and maybe that's a form of giving back. I don't know. Yeah.

Ashley Rindsberg: So what's next for you? You just had an album out with Tammy Rogers, is that right? Yes. And which is "I Surely Will Be Singing". I misspoke earlier by Mountain Fever Records that was out this year. So just out I'm guessing you've already got something on the burner. If not in the works. .

Thomm Jutz: Yeah. I've, I've really felt like over this pandemic, as, as counterintuitive as this may sound that this was a good time to collaborate. So I collaborated with Tammy on this record and we had been writing together for many years and I've also worked on a record. It's actually almost like two records with a great mandolin player called MikeCompton, who a lot of people know, from the soundtrack to O brother where art thou, he plays all over then and also find the soundtrack he's he's he's also contributed to the soundtrack of cold mountain and we've become good friends and wrote some stuff about his childhood and Mississippi and his ancestors in Mississippi. And so we turned that into a true duo record, registers to him and me playing there's four songs with the band, but everything else has just to do, and we're singing, playing live and there's no editing, no tuning, no nothing. So it's. And this is an album that's really focusing on old country music of the twenties before it even called itself country music.

It was just, I don't know, some at the industry called it hillbilly music at the time, but for the, for the people, it was just whatever. And then I'm also, I just completed a record with a gentleman called Tim Stafford. Who's a wonderful writer and we've been writing a lot together and he's a, he's a great guitar player. So we, we always wanted to work on something together. So we did that and so those things are in the can. And now I'm going to maybe work at a little more of a relaxed pace for the first half of this year and focus on promoting these things and planning these things and on my teaching and, you know, just recharging the batteries a little bit too, by reading. And now that it's hopefully going to be possible to, to, to travel a little more also getting out of here a little. Seeing some other things, but yeah, I'm super excited about writing, playing, recording. It's it never, it never gets old.

Ashley Rindsberg: That's amazing. It sounds like a great approach to rhythm and cadence in life, which again, another thing people lose sight of is we all want to go 120% all the time and it doesn't work. It's not good. Not productive. So last question, which is a question I always ask or try to always ask, which is what are you reading right now?

Thomm Jutz: I'm rereading, a book called 'Salvation on Sand Mountain' about serpent handlers in Alabama, which is it is a really, really good book. It was put in by a New York Times journalist who studied it and was fascinated with it and then kind of became too fascinated with it and wanted to do it himself and did it, and then realized how dangerous it was and pull back from it. It's a really good book. I'm reading it for a graduate degree that, that I'm working on. And so I'm, most of my reading at the moment is not dictated, but I'm informed by what I have to read for that. So it's a bunch of stuff on, on mountain religion. And in Appalachia, that's really interesting, a couple of books on Appalachian food ways, which ties in with that degree as well.

I like cooking and I like good food and like Appalachia, it's a fascinating place to me because it ties in with the music. I've been really into the novels of a Western North Carolina author called Terry Roberts, whose novels are taking place between 1865 and the early 1920s. And mostly in western North Carolina, which is an interesting part of the world.

And he is a native of that region. So he writes very eloquently about that. And he manages to, to put historical figures into his fiction, which is always an interesting literary technique to me. And then just, you know, whatever comes there's books everywhere. I look around and my wife reads a lot and I read a lot and I like to, I like to keep them out and guitars out. So I don't have to go to a shelf and look for something. I like to be able to sit down and open a book and read a page and then put it down and let that marinate a little bit and see what, what I can.

Ashley Rindsberg: Amazing. Thank you. Where can people find you and your work? Where's the best place to go?

Thomm Jutz: Oh, it's my, it's my website, It's T H O M M J U T And that's where all my records are and all that kind of stuff. But man, this was such a good conversation. Thank you so much.

Ashley Rindsberg: Thank you, Tom. No, it was really great. I really enjoyed it.

Thomm Jutz: Yeah, you inspired me to think a lot of new thoughts that I hadn't thought about. Somebody has already expressed them in a different way. So maybe you can send me an email where I can find your work..

Ashley Rindsberg: I will absolutely do so. Let's be in touch and I'll be listening to more and more of the music that you produce, including what's already been out. And again, thank you. This is, I think really, for a lot of people, this is, these are the questions that they're asking or they, that they need to be asking. And I think we've even offered a couple answers if we can humbly say so. So Thomm Jutz, thank you so much for joining me on The Burning Castle.

Thomm Jutz: Thank you. Have a great day

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