Nothing But Green Willow: The Songs Of Mary Sands and Jane Gentry
Songwriter and guitarist Thomm Jutz and his trans-Atlantic collaborator, the 32-time BBC Radio 2 Folk Award-nominated Martin Simpson aim to spread their love for Cecil Sharp’s 1916 and 1918 collection, “English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians”—particularly those tunes from singers Mary Sands and Jane Gentry and the mystery and timelessness which they convey.
Knowing they weren’t the only ones obsessed with this particular catalog, Simpson and Jutz found a host of others with a similar mission, bringing together a mix of roots artists from both sides of the pond—Sierra Hull, Angeline Morrison, Odessa Settles, Tim O’Brien, Tammy Rogers, Seth Lakeman, and more—to create an homage to the bridge from Appalachia to England and back, just as the songs of Sands and Gentry originally did.
After calling both Tim Stafford and Thomm Jutz “master guitarists and writers,” the beloved, late music writer and historian Peter Cooper described their upcoming collection, Lost Voices, just like this: “These are new kinds of bluegrass songs, informed by mutual heroes Tony Rice, Norman Blake, John Hartford, and Gordon Lightfoot, yet not beholden to any prior influence, other than the influence of the American experience.”
When it came time to lay down all fourteen Stafford- and Jutz-penned songs on Lost Voices, the pair decamped to Jutz’s log cabin studio outside of Nashville with a crew of like-minded greats including Shaun Richardson on mandolin, Ron Block on banjo, Tammy Rogers on fiddle, Mark Fain on bass, and Dale Ann Bradley as a guest vocalist. When all was said and done, Stafford and Jutz ended up with an album of all original music that perfectly reflects the depth of both knowledge and skill—and an effortless cool—that the duo possesses; an album of tunes that the aforementioned Cooper called “Songs that bring American history—mountain culture, steam trains, vaudeville, race, baseball, strife, and grace—to technicolor life.”