Country Music People March 2019 - Page 57

TOM BU L LE R A country boy with the blues T here’s a quote on Tom Buller’s website from Lorrie Morgan that says, “Tom Buller is the best male country singer out there today.” Quite a compliment from someone once married to Keith Whitley. Buller made a hefty splash with last year’s long player When A Country Boy Gets The Blues which more than lived up to its title and he is one of a handful of traditionalists making sure country music still has a presence on Nashville’s Lower Broadway. Indeed, Buller is cited as an important part in the resurgence of traditional country music. “Country music is real important to me and I take it very seriously. I’m glad to see it coming’ back around, he states proudly. Having played in honky tonks his whole adult life and in his family’s bluegrass band in Nebraska before that, Buller set up camp just a couple of doors from Robert’s Western World in Layla’s Honky Tonk to play his brand of blues-infused country. “Frankie and Lillie Mae Rische got me my first gig at Layla’s and I was working there five days after I moved to Nashville,” recalls the singer who named his band Just Plain Trouble and is described on his website as “an honest-to- God honky-tonk singer.” It will likely not come as any surprise that Buller’s country heroes are as country as they come, “I think Keith Whitley, George Jones, and Merle Haggard are the greatest country singers to live and their songs are just dripping with emotion. You felt every word they ever sang and those are the folks I’ve always been attracted to the most,” he says, but the blues influence is strong in his work. “In my early teens I got really into the blues like Stevie Ray Vaughan and Eric Clapton. and even though I was raised up on bluegrass and traditional country, for a number of years all I did was play blues. The blues is always going to be part of what I do. There’s a lot more blues influence in country music than maybe people realise and I don’t want to play blues full time, but at the same time it will always be represented in my music.” As a Lower Broadway regular Tom Buller is perfectly placed to comment on why it can be so difficult to find traditional country music on the main drag and tourist magnet of Music City. “I wonder that myself,” he shrugs. “Some of these guys go down there and sing these songs that are supposed to be country music and it has nothing to do with country music whatsoever. Real country music has always been an art form of honesty and these days the only thing they seem to sing about are tractors and dirt roads and drinking beer. Hell, half these guys probably haven’t been on a tractor. But, that’s what country radio is feeding people. “There are a handful of folks that are doing real country music. My personal opinion, though... I think the ‘country music industry’ took all the honesty out of country music and it all became about the dollar. But, without the heartfelt songs and honesty, there’ll be no more country music. That’s why it’s so important to me to help keep real country alive.” With When A Country Boy Gets The Blues not just still fresh in our minds, but one of the best records of last year, Buller is buoyed by the positive reaction he has received and has already started on the follow-up. “I’ve been writing and I’ve got some songs in mind that the band and I have been working on, arrangements and so on,” he promises. cmp Tom Buller: When A Country Boy Gets The Blues is available now. MARCH 2019 - cmp 57