Back in Gate City Again," off Colin Cutler's latest release, Hot Pepper Jam, is a steel-driven waltz about his return to Greensboro after several years away.
After finishing up an MA at UNC Greensboro, he deployed with his Army National Guard unit to Qatar and Romania, then did an MA in Creative Writing in northern England and a teaching Fulbright in Romania. The pandemic brought him back to North Carolina, and he now teaches English at GTCC.
The title track of Hot Pepper Jam also has a video that will be released this month on Americana Highways. The album can be heard on Colin's Bandcamp or anywhere else music is streamed. His schedule is on his website.
From Colin: When I first moved to Greensboro in 2014, I was in the middle of figuring out who I was and who I wanted to be, and what was home. “Gate City Blues,” off of the Stranger in the Promised Land record, captures the questions and feelings of those first two years. I had started budding as a songwriter in the western Loudoun County scene, but it was when I moved to Greensboro and fell into the songwriting, oldtime, and open mic scenes here that my writing really blossomed (Shoutouts to the UNC-G oldtime ensemble, Turntable (RIP), Mike Gaffney, Matty Sheets, and Dean Driver for fostering those spaces and encouraging me). In those first two years before the Army took me overseas, I wrote most of the songs that ended up on the Nelson County Wayside, Peacock Feathers, and Stranger projects. I also ran a songwriter concert series at Gibb’s Hundred (RIP), which Yes! Weekly helped support in return for my writing articles for them. I spent most of 2016-2020 overseas, first with the Army, then on my own account. I learned a lot about myself and performing while I was over there, but I found that every time I came back to the States, I always floated back to Greensboro. I’ve got family all over the US, but I found that here’s where I’d found a community of shared love and activity—love for each other, love for the music, and musical love to share this with those around them. I’d found a home. When I was on the family farm (an island in the middle of crick and swamp in eastern NC) last summer, I watched from afar as the Black Lives Matter protests started kicking off and the reaction to them started kicking in. I was angry, and I was sad, and I knew there was no place I’d rather be (or better place for me to be) than back in Greensboro working with people who were working to make the world better for all of us. The "Back in Gate City Again" video is a contemplation of and reconciliation with what makes a place home. Tom Troyer and I worked in scenes from my time overseas, as well as what brought me back, and finally, footage from the Hot Pepper Jam album release show at the Carolina Theatre this July, with Laura Jane Vincent and Viva La Muerte. The whole song is a collaborative effort, with local musicians Jack Gorham, Mark Byerly (Farewell Friend, and Tom Troyer (Black Rabbit Audio) all adding their chops to it. Tom Troyer put together the music video from clips he'd taken and that I’d collected from my time overseas (Silvia Paizan, David Swinn). I hope you enjoy this video and the music as much as we enjoyed putting it together. It’s good to be back home