Interview with Nashville's Broadway Man, Tommy Buller
1. Give us the story behind the music. What was the inspiration behind your upcoming single “I Still Call It Home”? Is it inspired by an actual place you grew up?
"I Still Call it Home" is a song written by Billy Droze and Chris Myers. Billy played it for me on one of our first recording sessions, and I immediately fell in love with the song because I could relate to it. Although I moved away from Nebraska a long time ago, I've always had strong roots back at home and the song just kind of spoke to me about the way I feel.
2. Describe your journey as an artist. Have you always been a Bluegrass music artist?
I started out playing bluegrass when I very young with my parents' bluegrass band. When I was about 12 years old, I started playing with a full country band in a little honky tonk in Council Bluffs, Iowa called the Glass Front Tavern. Then in my mid-teens, I really got into the blues and later on ended up being the backup band for a blues artist by the name of Guitar Shorty for a number of years. I lived in Texas off and on for about 9 years playing blues music with a blues trio. Then about 14 years ago, I decided it was time to get back to my roots and start playing some bluegrass and traditional country music and I moved to Nashville. Even when I was off playing blues, I was still listening, studying and playing a lot of bluegrass and country music. That's just not how I made my living at the time.
3. What is something most country music fans don’t know or get right about Bluegrass?
I think a lot of country music fans think that bluegrass music is just boring mountain music with a lot of banjo. That's not true. I think that bluegrass music is one of the most complex music genres there is. Some of the finest musicians in the world have roots in bluegrass music.
4. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced with keeping your music going during the current pandemic? Have you written new songs because of it?
Well through this whole pandemic thing, with not being able to play live, we've done a lot of live feeds over the internet. We want to make sure that we're still out there and people don't forget about us, and hopefully when this is all over, we'll have a lot of people coming out to our live shows. It certainly has given me a lot of time to do some writing which is good. It's hard to find time to write when you're out on the road all the time and playing shows every day, so that aspect of it has been really good. It's given me plenty of time to sit around and toy with new ideas and so on and so forth.
5. We hear about a resurgence of bluegrass among a new generation... why/how do you think it is that bluegrass is now attracting a younger crowd? What do you see as the future of Bluegrass?
Personally, I think there are a lot of folks that are getting tired of what they're calling country music these days. I think a lot of folks are longing for something real and not just songs about tractors, water towers and dirt roads. I think a lot of folks are finding that in bluegrass music right now. I think the more dumbed-down Top 40 country music gets, the bigger Bluegrass is going to get. I hate to be so harsh, but that's the way I feel.
About Tommy Buller:
It’s likely you won't hear about Nashville’s lower Broadway music scene without the mention of Tommy Buller's name. For years, he has drawn in sizable crowds at one of the world’s most well known dive-bars, Layla's Bluegrass Inn. Buller's voice -- an instrument that sounds like the ghostly conjuring of some legendary star of a bygone era. His guitar playing, equally emotive, moves effortlessly. Alongside his band, Just Plain Trouble, Buller gives everything he has onstage, then he greets his fans one by one, shaking hands, and sharing stories. The man has played honky-tonks his entire adult life and with his family's bluegrass band in Nebraska before that. He's logged miles in the hundreds of thousands between Nashville and the Rio Grande Valley, and all over the Midwest. He is part of a resurgence in the popularity of traditional country/Bluegrass music that is taking place among a hip, young audience in Nashville.