2010 Texas Music Award Winner (Founder's Award for Artistic Excellence) and Texas Song of the Year Nominee
2010 Austin Music Awards Top-10 Folk Artist and Top-10 Roots Rock Artist
2009 Texas Male Vocalist and Song of the Year Nominee (Top-5) at The Texas Music Awards
2-Time MountainStage New Song Regional Finalist
Release of Big Top: Vol. 1 & 2
Roots/Country Chart Top 20 and Featured on KGSR with Bryan Beck
6th European Tour
David Lutes is a musician. At the age of 4, he started performing melodies on the piano that he’d heard peripherally in the background. By adulthood, he was accomplished on the guitar, mandolin, bass and drums. With these natural gifts and poetic sensibilities, there was no question as to whether or not he would play and write music. Despite that, he tried a professional career (as a lawyer, no less), but music returned as his element of exposure or, in his words, a way of processing the world. For David Lutes, the range of human emotions, experiences and regrets are served in song.
David’s music translates as an antibody that seems to negate poisons in the atmosphere. His newest double EP release, Big Top Vol. 1 & 2, communicates newfound peace after the birth of his first child, a daughter named Ruby. Central to its message is hope, and the record exudes this guiding sentiment to listeners. Have you listened to Texas Song of the Year nominee “You Belong (In Pearls Tonight),” track 3 on Vol. 1? Or even Vol. 2 standout “Stay Awhile”? These songs stand in such stark contrast to melancholic tunes that it’s hard to imagine a world without personal cheer, calm, and clarity.
Born and raised in Dallas, TX, David spent his earliest years listening and playing music alongside a family of songsters and aficionados. If you have heard any music penned by Lutes, you would correctly expect that his parents raised him on 60’s-70’s folk-rock, jazz, and R&B. He was familiar with all the great last names before he turned 10, including Simon, Wilson, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Davis and Coltrane, Redding, and Wonder. However, equal in importance to his style is Texas. The roots of Texas music are strong and deep, and living a childhood underneath so much sky tends to give music a soaring sonic quality. The instrumentation on Big Top emphasizes that heady atmosphere, stacked with David’s own sense of endless inspiration.
The first mention of David Lutes in the music scene began with “Plumtucker,” his musical alter-ego and the original name for his band. Meant as a moniker to umbrella all of the talented players on his two previous records and in live performances, David has often toured internationally under the name. Plumtucker also serves as reference to his exhaustive spirit in songwriting- never allowing rest when he had a spark of insight.
Another question may be asked of the recordings: why the choice for double EP’s? This option is more and more common as artists extend their musical tastes, sometimes overlapping genres. For Lutes, the two predominant genres on Big Top are Americana and pop. Vol. 1 contains elements of Lutes’ Americana-roots background, clearly displayed on “Love in the Hard Times.” Vol. 2 exercises his interest in pop music, where experimentation is expected, and is modeled best by “Rooftop.”
Big Top features ample opportunities for listener captivation, as each individual song is wholly memorable. Standouts such as “Fine Line” and “The Wheel” are wistfully crafted in gossamer, lighter than air. Steady syncopations lead “Ginny On Fire,” “Be Reasonable,” and “We Love Me,” while “Lucia’s Song” is a genuine spring of color-rich lyrics. The production value on Big Top Vol. 1 & 2 heightens David’s other talent: his fine ear for opulent melodies. Indicative of his talents, David won a 2010 Texas Music Award for Artistic Excellence, was nominated for Texas Song of the Year, and was previously nominated for “Male Vocalist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the 2009 Texas Music Awards. Since an early age, Lutes has been a musician. Where it was once a peripheral need, it is now a defining purpose.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul.
And sings the tune
Without the words,
and never stops at all.
David Lutes: Vocals, Lead and Rhythm Guitars
The Big Top Band:
Tom Benton: Bass
Dony Wynn: Drums
GumB: Bass, Cello
Brady Muckelroy: 6 string and fretless bass, drums
Adam Sultan: Guitars
Matthew Pipkin: Mandolin
Carolyn Lutes: Vocals
Daniel Ha: Violin
Featured on Big Top:
Lloyd Maines: Pedal and Lap Steel
Richard Bowden: Fiddle
Manny Yanes: Bass
Whit Williams: Guitars
Kullen Fuchs: Horns, Melodica, Keys; Accordion
Dony Wynn: Drums and Percussion
WEST/EAST EP, 2004
Lightning Wheels Prerelease EP, 2005
Live on Eklektikos with John Aielli, Jay Trachtenburg on KUT, 90.5 FM, Austin - Streaming on kut.org, Multiple Dates 2005-2009
Live with Bryan Beck on KGSR, 107.1 FM, Austin - Multiple Dates 2008-2009
Radio Without Borders @ www.kut.org
Lightning Wheels, 2006 - on label, Blueroot Music: Radio and Internet Airplay
1 Night In 1A, 2007 - Live @ KUT, UK-Only Release, 2007
Solo Stages, 2008, Blueroot Music - David Lutes Live around the world
Big Top: Vol. 1 & 2, 2009, Blueroot Music with FC+, Top 20 on Roots/Country Chart
Americana Music Times - KILLER Rating for Big Top
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***** AMERICANA MUSIC TIMES "David Lutes is back - this time without the "Plumtucker" moniker - and ...***** AMERICANA MUSIC TIMES "David Lutes is back - this time without the "Plumtucker" moniker - and he's stronger than ever with Big Top. From the haunting "Lucia's Song" through the beautiful "The Night Watchman" the listener is treated to one aural feast after another on this two-disk set. My favorite tune is "Coming Apart," which sounds deeply personal as the artist struggles with the conflicts of life, love, and the music he lives for. The lyrics on Big Top are gorgeously poetic, the melodies are richly original, and David's voice is, as usual, simply stunning. The production on this record is deeply layered, and if you listen closely, you will find yourself quite often wondering "how'd they make that sound?" Listen and wonder as Big Top spins you to new levels of musical pleasure." -Steve Circeo, giving Big Top their rare "KILLER" Rating!
Austin Daze.com - FIVE Stars for Big Top
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***** AUSTIN DAZE.COM (click for the full review) "David Lutes is a musician's musician...Recently n...***** AUSTIN DAZE.COM (click for the full review) "David Lutes is a musician's musician...Recently nominated for "Male Vocalist of the Year" and "Song of the Year" at the 2009 Texas Music Awards, Lutes is on top of his game fusing jazz, pop, rock, Americana and everything in between..."
Austin.com Reviews Big Top
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"...Like the ringmaster at the circus, Lutes separates the different performances on the two-disc Bi..."...Like the ringmaster at the circus, Lutes separates the different performances on the two-disc Big Top allowing each to take a moment in the spotlight...Moving from haunting (the opener "Lucia's Song") to roots rock ("Love in the Hard Times"), Lutes meticulously weaves melodies together...[while] the second volume can be equated to the lion-tamer act. It's flashy and dangerous, with room for the occasional flare of the unexpected. Diving head-first through syncopated pop ("Ginny On Fire" and "We Love Me") before landing into the net of "Fine Line," Lutes' voice is continuously smooth like an amalgamation of Lindsey Buckingham and Lyle Lovett..."
- Nichole Wagner, Austin.com
Phil Strongman (Hot Gossip), London, Reviews Big Top
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A soulful acoustic singer-songwriter, Lutes was recently in the UK – he hails from North America – g...A soulful acoustic singer-songwriter, Lutes was recently in the UK – he hails from North America – giving a live version of this set. His soaring, yearning voice is complemented on this set by a great backing band and intelligent lyrics. The catchy, atmospheric 'Be Reasonable' - 'my drug of choice was Hank Williams Two' – and the melodic 'Love In The Hard Times' are my own personal faves but all 15 cuts here cut deep. They come complete with a lush, fold-out sleeve and a 20 page lyric booklet. Quality stuff. 8 out of 10 Stars.
San Antonio Press
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"Plumtucker ignores genres while fusing jazz, pop, rock, Americana and anything else that fits, and ..."Plumtucker ignores genres while fusing jazz, pop, rock, Americana and anything else that fits, and everything seems to fit."
-San Antonio Express-News
New Solo Stages Review!
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There are two very well defined musical experiences that cause me to weep: John Lennon singing "Imag...There are two very well defined musical experiences that cause me to weep: John Lennon singing "Imagine" and Warren Zevon singing "Knocking on Heaven's Door." Those tears are shed as much for the sense of loss of musical giants too-soon-taken, as for the beauty of the performances. I am now, however, prepared to add a third musical event that moves me to mistiness: Plumtucker's David Lutes singing anything. The pristine beauty of David's voice sends me away, and the tears spring not from the melancholy of losing what was, but from the joy of celebrating what is.
I first came into contact with David Lutes at a Plumtucker show at San Antonio's now-defunct Red Room. As soon as the music started, I knew I was in the presence of something very special. I purchased Plumtucker's 2006 release, Lightning Wheels (read my review), at that show, and I've since purchased no less than ten more copies to distribute to friends and family. So to say I was looking forward to a new album from Plumtucker is a bit of an understatement. I yearned for it.
All that build-up could have left me with a very disappointed feeling when I finally heard the new record. After all, how can any record live up to these expectations? I check myself every so often to gauge the "letdown factor" -- I truly am my own worst critic -- and I think I'm fairly levelheaded about such things, so it was with very little trepidation that I slipped the CD into the player and sat back to listen.
The first song on Solo Stages is the traditional "900 Miles," which is appropriate, because this is a live album, recorded at three separate shows, one in Georgia and two in the UK, far from David's wife Caroline, who was pregnant with their daughter Ruby at the time. David's voice soars beautifully as he accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and he slides seamlessly into his original song "This Echo Life."
In fact, the whole album is rather seamless. Recorded in listening room environments, the record feels as if we are enjoying an intimate evening in our living room with Plumtucker, aka David Lutes. James Williams does step in with lead guitar and backing vocals on one song, "My River," but other than that it's all David all the time. He tells stories and regales us with his observations on life in the form of beautifully crafted songs.
The (writers, please take note) correctly punctuated "Rise Up, Elijah," is the standout on the record. It's a heartfelt song about a slave family in the 19th-century Deep South, a father telling his son to escape now, even though he knows that means they may never see each other again. David's voice is perfectly tuned, and his performance is mesmerizing as he delivers the father's plea to his son, Elijah, with the chorus:
Rise up, Elijah, my only son.
Think of your mother, my true one gone.
And look to heaven with your final prayer, and I'll find you there.
Although this is a live record, it is only Plumtucker's second release, so it is mostly new material, with just three of the nine songs repeated from Lightning Wheels. My one disappointment is that my favorite song from that record, "Over The Moon," is not included on Solo Stages, but, then, it really wouldn't have been the same without Caroline's harmony vocals, which is how I've always heard it performed live, so good call there.
Americana fans, step up to the plate on this one. Solo Stages presents Americana with slight jazz overtones, ethereal but earthbound lyrics enhanced by elegant melodies. And that voice, David's voice. Listen to the record and shed a tear for the beauty of what is.
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When you slide Plumtucker’s Lightning Wheels into your CD player and hear the piano prologue followe...When you slide Plumtucker’s Lightning Wheels into your CD player and hear the piano prologue followed closely by the smooth jazz sound of “Colorado,” you may wonder why we are reviewing this record in a magazine that tends to focus on the Texas Country Music scene. I could tell you that there are some easily distinguishable country elements on the CD, such as a wailing slide guitar and a song about a hammock, but, while that would be true, I’m going to tell you the real reason. This record really makes me smile, and that’s not an easy thing to accomplish. Without delving too deeply into my scarred psyche, let’s explore what it is about Plumtucker’s Lightning Wheels that makes the corners of my mouth turn up. Reason number one is the exciting iInstrumentation. This musical journey begins with a short piano prelude, then moves on to “Colorado,” which has an inspired musical hook played on an instrument that I was pretty sure I’d never heard before. I asked Plumtucker frontman David Lutes about it, and found out I was right. It’s a studio creation, made by bending a Rhodes keyboard signal. Cool! The ride continues through the jazzy “Lady Persuasion” with a coolly, oddball keyboard sound (that I can only say reminds me somehow of “The Monkees”) coming in through the right channel during the chorus. There is a mix of guitars on “Cowboy Dream,” the complexity of which can only be appreciated with repeated listens through headphones, and we move farther along with what my untrained ear can only call a superbly orchestrated instrumental wonderland behind the lyrics of “My River.” Our final stop is a palate-cleansing piano epilogue. I smile. Reason number two is the beautiful vocals. That’s really the only way I can describe David’s voice, which is unlike any I’ve heard in Texas Music. It’s smooth with plenty of range and he knows how to use it, but refuses to abuse his talent by hitting you over the head with it. He’s not a listen-and-marvel-as- I-slide-up-and-down-the-scales kinda singer. In fact, David’s voice seems to take its own reins, simply going where it needs to go and never farther, producing a perfectly satisfying sound that meshes flawlessly with the other vocalists and instruments. I smile. The third reason I love this record is the poetic lyrics. David Lutes is a poet, pure and simple. There are so many great lyrics on this album that I merely had to select one at random, from the song "Falling Up" to show you: "And dreams come like a savior. I drink deep from the well. In patience, I listen. The very word is like a bell - to toll me back from this mind of mine – Distraction’s love of easeful death. But I was not born for that, but to feel the warmth of mercy’s breath." Wow! I feel like I’m back in English Lit, studying John Donne, sitting next to Karen Lesser as she bends down to retrieve her dropped pencil. Her blouse falling slightly open as she leans forward, and I catch a glimpse of.... Well, it takes me back, anyway. I smile. Lightning Wheels is a smart, fun, beautiful record, superbly crafted by producers Boo McCleod and David Lutes. Its musical style is difficult to categorize, so while it often seems the purpose of the American press to narrow readers’ minds by providing such categorizations, I won’t do it here, beyond this: Lightning Wheels’ soul is folk, its mind is country, and its body is jazz. Listen to this record while drinking Smirnoff, Shiner, or Shiraz, and you’ll find your mind and toes equally satisfied. In other words, put it on anytime you want to smile. (Review by Steve Circeo)
Lucky Boyd, Texas Music Awards
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David Lutes is Plumtucker. (Yeah, David, I broke the code!) David Lutes is talented. No code require...David Lutes is Plumtucker. (Yeah, David, I broke the code!) David Lutes is talented. No code required. A multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and vocalist, Lutes dons his musical persona and cranks out masterful creations. Lutes has a commanding mastery of his voice and truly uses it as an instrument on this thirteen cut gem. (11 plus Prologue and Epilogue) This album is an epic production, defying genre lines at every turn and giving the listener a feel-good comfort throughout the 51-minute runtime. Plumtucker is indeed an elevated talent. Sitting a notch above the droves of singer/songwriters who want but never act, Lutes has redefined the brass ring. While Lutes' arrangements may be a bit difficult to duplicate live, it's of no real consequence. Plumtucker will still be a great show to see, whether you catch the solo version or the multi-instrumental ensemble. A number of excellent musicians make cameo contributions to the album, adding to the Plumtucker experience. Great songs, great album. Get it now!
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The first time I popped in Plum'tucker's West/East I knew that something was right with the world. I...The first time I popped in Plum'tucker's West/East I knew that something was right with the world. I haven't got the jargon to detail quite how it was right, but I have got the humanity to experience it....
This isn't a means of packaging a few cute snippets but a unified whole that flows over you like a wave. From the opening groove you're involved in a story. The thrill of new romance, the contemplation of a long drive, redemption from misery, and final satisfaction in love are a few of the stops along the way. Rhythm packed with meaning guides the wheel, a trusty duo of guitar and vocals paves the road, and lush metaphors populate the landscape with rich images. With bass guitar as your engine, and drums - a refreshing cup of coffee, everything has its place as your journey progresses.
But then you see it live. This is where you see that it's really music. You may have heard songs flowing through verse, chorus, or solo, but you haven't seen the humanity behind the music. On stage is not a paid act or a performing artist but a man who loves what he does. More than that, it's a man who *is* what he does. For just a moment in time, you are connected -- really connected -- to a human being. That's what music does, and that's how you know David is a musician.
I have seen Plum'tucker in concert four times, and the most recent is always my favorite. He is always experimenting, critiquing, and adapting, so the most recent experience will always be the best. It will never stop being fresh. As a matter of fact, I am writing this review because my last experience was more of an existential encounter than anything else. I wasn't just listening to a tune being played on stage; I was encountering a passion honed into art....
In Plum'tucker he brings something I'm glad I have. During his last concert, as I sat there watching and listening and feeling, I was overcome by one repeated thought: I wish I was a better man. And if anything is music, it's that.
Texas Music Times Special Mention for Top Albums of 2006
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"David Lutes' voice is phenomenal, his lyrics are inspired, the instrumention is superb, and the pro..."David Lutes' voice is phenomenal, his lyrics are inspired, the instrumention is superb, and the production brings it all together..."
-The Texas Music Times (selecting "Lightning Wheels" as a Special Mention for Best TX Albums of 2006)
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Another great night at Normanton. We were introduced to yet another singer-songwriter from Austin Te...Another great night at Normanton. We were introduced to yet another singer-songwriter from Austin Texas, David Lutes, and he was a rare talent indeed. He had a powerful, soulful voice and played some very harmonic chords up and down the guitar. I was amazed at the dexterity and masterful voice range. The songs themselves were very different and excellent. He started with "900 Miles" a traditional song, and he then gave us a musical journey which ended with a standout song called "Lady Persuasion". We have been very lucky at Normanton to have all this visiting talent.
I bought an album from him as I do sometimes, if I enjoy a performance, called "Lightning Wheels" which I have played quite a few times. In fact, I think its one of the best albums I've bought for a long time.
So thank you, Austin, Texas for letting us in England enjoy your music.
Normanton Acoustic Club
Set Length - Variable, Flexible, 1-4 hours
Set List Originals - typical
Ginny on Fire
Rise Up, Elijah
You Belong (in Pearls Tonight)
Love in the Hard Times
This Echo Life
We Love Me
I Found You
Over The Moon
The Hammock Song
By & By
Set List Covers - typical examples
If I Had A Boat - Lyle Lovett
I'd Have To Be Crazy - Willie Nelson
Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
The Weight - The Band
Dublin Blues - Guy Clark
There are no upcoming dates at this time.