Photo by Barbara Potter
Nashville, Tenn., U.S.A., 2018
It’s likely you won't hear about Nashville’s lower Broadway music scene without the mention of Tom Buller's name. For years, he has drawn in sizable crowds at one of the world’s most well known dive-bars, Layla's Honky Tonk. Crying pedal steel and whirls of soulful piano play to Tom's voice -- an instrument that sounds like the ghostly conjuring of some country star of a bygone era. His electric guitar playing, equally emotive, moves effortlessly from ripping country solo to bonafide blues wail. 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 and, occasionally, a shot of Jack Daniels. 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 music that is taking place among a hip, young audience in Nashville.
With a cast of fine musicians — all being current or past members of Just Plain Trouble, Tom has co-produced his first recording project to be released worldwide, aptly titled ‘When a Country Boy Gets the Blues.’ The album blends the musical elements of Buller’s upbringing, from blues to bluegrass, and covers all the bases of great country music: love, heartache, and a whole lot of drinking. Eight of the nine tracks are original songs by Buller, with one cover, which was written by Tom’s friend/Loretta Lynn’s guitarist, Bart Hansen, and Jason Wagoner. ‘When a Country Boy Gets the Blues’ is an intimate account of highs and lows, from the heart of an honest-to-God honky-tonk singer, in the midst of a whiskey-drenched, neon-bathed existence that many sing about, but few have truly lived.