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Thursday 18 July 2024

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Sep 29, 2023


Nothing But Green Willow: The Songs of Mary Sands And Jane Gentry is released by the historic Topic Records TODAY. Forged and inspired by Cecil Sharp’s 1916 and 1918 collection, English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians,’ Grammy-nominated and IBMA Award-winning songwriter and guitarist, Thomm Jutz, and the award-winning English songwriter/ guitarist Martin Simpson, set out to bring to life the songs of Mary Sands and Jane Gentry, whose renditions, “…arguably changed the course of American music history by bringing these ballads to Sharp’s collection.” 

With both Martin and Thomm selecting the songs and the singers, the record is a veritable who’s who of contemporary folk/roots artists from both the US & the UK, including Sierra Hull, Angeline Morrison, Odessa Settles, Tim O’Brien, Cara Dillon, Tammy Rogers and Seth Lakeman. These songs have traveled from the British Isles to Appalachia, from Sands & Gentry to Cecil Sharp and back home, and the decision to keep their versions stripped back to just guitars and voice results in a startling authenticity that lets, as Martin expresses, “the songs breathe and speak better for that.” 

Of their relevance, Jutz explains that “The stories and messages in these songs are as important today as they were hundreds of years ago. The reason for this is that they deal with archetypes. And archetypes, and the problems related to them, transcend time and place.” 

Fittingly, to celebrate the release of the record, today’s focus track, ‘Edward,’ is, “A breathtaking retelling of the Abel and Cain story. We never really learn why the protagonist killed his brother, just like we never fully comprehend why one man would kill another. As with many of these old songs, there is no answer, no happy ending, no moral to the story. The story gets out of its own way, it does not want to do anything else but be told.” Sung by folk polymath Seth Lakeman, the interplay between Jutz and Simpson is dynamic. Supported by Seth on tenor guitar & Tammy Rogers on fiddle, Martin plays a sliding guitar that captures the trans-Atlantic spirit of the recording, with Thomm telling us that “One of our rules was to have no rules when making this record. So, playing slide guitar on an old English song was perfectly fine with us.“ 


In reflection, Martin shares, “I feel proud and privileged to have made this record. Working with a set of brilliant singers and wonderful players to present some of the greatest songs I know has been a joy. The songs should live forever.” Thomm adds, “Every aspect of the music presented here represents the flow of Folk music. Singers and players joined together in the service of these ancient songs, to honor their timeless importance and beauty. It was a dream come true to make this album with Martin Simpson, and all the other wonderful people involved in it.”

Nothing But Green Willow: The Songs of Mary Sands and Jane Gentry comes in deluxe CD format, which includes an astonishing, highly educational 20 page booklet, featuring in-depth liner notes by Dr Ted Olson (Professor of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University).

Buy, stream & enjoy Nothing But Green Willow: The Songs of Mary Sands and Jane Gentry here 

Nothing But Green Willow Tracklist:

‘Fair Annie’ feat. Emily Portman

‘Geordie’ feat. Sierra Hull & Justin Moses

‘Pretty Saro’ feat. Odessa Settles

‘Edward’ feat. Seth Lakeman

‘Edwin in the Lowlands Low’ feat. Tim O’Brien

‘Jacob’s Ladder’ feat. Dale Ann Bradley & Tim Stafford

‘Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies’ feat. Cara Dillon

‘The Wagoner’s Lad’ feat. Martin Simpson

‘Married and Single Life’ feat. Tammy Rogers

‘The Gypsy Laddie’ feat. Thomm Jutz

‘The Suffolk Miracle’ feat. Angeline Morrison

‘I Whipped My Horse’ feat. Fay Hield

‘Awake! Awake!’ feat. Thomm Jutz


More About Martin Simpson: Martin Simpson is an English folk musician and guitarist, known for his innovative and eclectic approach to traditional music. In the mid-1980s, Simpson moved to the United States, where he came to the attention of a wide range of American artists with whom he then collaborated, including Jackson Browne, Steve Miller, David Hidalgo, Kelly Joe Phelps, David Lindley and many others. Amongst the albums released during his US tenure, ‘Cool & Unusual,’ won the Indie award for best instrumental album in 1998. Signed to the legendary folk label, Topic Records, for which he has recorded over 13 albums since 1980, Simpson has been nominated for 32 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including Artist of the Year (nine times consecutively), Best Album, Best Original Song, Best Traditional Track, Best Guitarist, and Musician of the Year.  He has won Musician Of The Year twice, Album Of The Year twice, Best Original Song and Best Traditional Arrangement. In addition to his work as a musician, Simpson has also been involved in music education, teaching at universities and leading workshops and masterclasses around the world. 


More About Thomm Jutz: Raised in the Black Forest of Germany, Thomm Jutz has become an American roots music treasure. His virtuosity, eloquence, and clarity of expression have made him a linchpin of Nashville’s creative community, and in 2020 his To Live in Two Worlds, Volume 1 was nominated for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy, making him the first immigrant to receive a nomination in that category. He’s earned four nominations and a 2021 win for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year award and is a current lecturer of songwriting at Belmont University. He has written numerous Bluegrass number ones, and his songs have been recorded by John Prine, Nanci Griffith, The SteelDrivers, Balsam Range, and more. He’s had over 250 film and TV placements of his music worldwide. Jutz has a Master’s degree in Appalachian Studies from East Tennessee State University and wrote his thesis on Grammy-winner Norman Blake. Jutz was featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame’s American Currents exhibit, slated to run 2022-2023.

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