ERIC BRACE & THOMM JUTZ: Nashville Folk via the C & O Canal + The Good Intentions

Date/Time Sun 16 Jul 2017 7:45 PM

Price Online - £10 + £1 booking fee; On The Door - £10


Eric Brace has appeared at TwickFolk a couple of times already, alongside fellow songwriter Peter Cooper. This summer however, he is bringing Thomm Jutz as part of a new duo.

However, as Eric explains: “The new duo – Eric Brace & Thomm Jutz – is not really new at all. We’ve recorded and toured together for several years now, with Thomm in the role as recording engineer, producer, guitarist, and harmony singer for the Eric Brace & Peter Cooper duo.”

Two extraordinarily talented people, Thomm and Eric have taken very distinct paths to arrive at their Nashville collaboration.

Eric began his musical career in Washington D.C. where he was a journalist with the Washington Post. In  Washington, he launched his acclaimed roots-rock band Last Train Home in the late ‘90s, touring with the group extensively across the U.S. and Europe, releasing seven albums and one concert DVD. The band moved to Nashville in 2004, where Eric met another journalist, Peter Cooper, who covered music for the Tennessean newspaper. They began a part-time duo, which soon became a nearly full-time thing, and so far they have four records to their name, all released on the label Eric founded in East Nashville, Red Beet Records.

Many years back, a 13-year-old Thomm Jutz was watching TV in his family home in Germany, when Bobby Bare came on and sang his hits “Detroit City” and “Tequila Sheila”, and like a bolt from above, he knew right then that he was going to play guitar and move to Nashville. The Black Forest of Germany is not a region not known for its country, folk, and bluegrass tendencies, though it kind of makes sense once you think about it, and when Thomm moved to Nashville in 2002, his transition was seamless. He immediately became an indispensible sideman to acclaimed artists Nanci Griffith, Mary Gauthier, and Maura O’Connell. After building a studio, he has become one of the most sought after producers of acoustic music in Music City.

Thomm has produced, engineered, and played on the last two Brace-Cooper albums, “The Comeback Album’ and ‘C&O Canal’. It’s a natural progression that Thomm would become the third member of the duo, so yes, now they’re a trio. Thomm’s spectacular guitar playing has added a virtuosic dimension to Eric and Peter’s live performances and arrangements, while his harmonies and lead singing add vocal richness to the shows.

He has also joined the short list of writers such as Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov whose works in their second language of English are as evocative as anything a native speaker can conjure. To grasp the truth of that, listen to Thomm’s three albums of original music about different episodes in the Civil War, titled *The 1861 Project,* volumes I, II, and III. They feature such artists as Bobby Bare (yep, they’ve become friends), Marty Stuart, and Kim Richey, are astonishingly evocative.

Thomm is also one of the most successful songwriters in the bluegrass world, having charted four #1 bluegrass chart hits over the past year (as recorded by Shawn Camp, Irene Kelly, and Chris Jones & the Night Drivers), and has had five more compositions in the bluegrass radio top ten.

Together, Eric and Thomm weave stories, songs, harmonies, and guitar playing into something very special. The lyrics are as thoughtful as those of their heroes, a list that includes John Prine, John Hartford, Kris Kristoffersen, Tom T. Hall, Paul Simon, and Townes Van Zandt. Add harmonies that bring to mind the Seldom Scene, Emmylou Harris, and the Everly Brothers, and sumptuous guitar arrangements, and you have a truly memorable evening of music.

The top video is from the Red Dragon Listening Room in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 2011, recorded by Jamey Firnberg. Here’s one featuring Thomm Jutz, recorded by Paul Eliow in Germany 2014: