Joe Sutzman

I do it for the love of the music! Interview with Joe Stutzman, bluegrass radio DJ

© Lilly Drumeva-O’Reilly

I befriended Joe on Facebook and thus heard about his bluegrass program. I sent him the new album of my band and he played some tracks of it on the show. I was very flattered and we continued to stay in touch. During IBMA’s conference in Raleigh, NC we met for the first time. It was a pleasant moment and we talked about bluegrass and other things. Here is what Joe shared with me:

How did you get involved with bluegrass music?

Quite by accident, I preferred traditional country, then while browsing online radio stations, I found several bluegrass ones and loved what I heard. As a small boy I remember loving bluegrass.

What do you like about it?

I like the “realness” of it, no electrified instruments, just a singer with an instrument and his/her song about real life.

How would you describe bluegrass to a foreigner?

Bluegrass is a culture, a way of life, sung from people who had nothing but yet felt rich with friends and family singing together in the mountain churches and front porches in the Appalachian mountains. It is a high lonesome, bluesy sound played on acoustic instruments.

What is the difference between country & bluegrass music?

Traditional country and bluegrass are very similar. Today’s new country has strayed away from that. Country has always found its roots in the rural life and songs tend to draw from that, where the bluegrass genre tends to have a wider variety. Country usually has drums and electrified instruments, where bluegrass tends to stay true to the original Bill Monroe style.

Tell me about your radio program?

I host “Heartland Bluegrass” twice a week, Wednesday and Thursday 10 am – noon Eastern USA time at I tend to play fairly traditional bluegrass music from around the world, but most comes from here in the USA. I have a huge library of music from the very early, 1940’s Bill Monroe (when and where it all started), to today’s young bluegrass musicians, who most likely have learned it from family or peers. It is an Internet only station with most listeners from the eastern half of the USA, but we also have a lot of support and listeners from Europe and Japan. I do it as a volunteer, for the love of the music and am enjoying it tremendously!

Lilly Drumeva