Rust Dust is the new moniker of Jason Shealy Stutts, a South Carolina native with a healthy aversion for barbers and liars. He earns his keep repairing and dealing in guitars and amps of a certain age.
After bonding with Oscar-winning, Grammy-nominated producer John DeNicola over their mutual affection for this sort of vintage gear, Stutts explained his concept for a record.
“A set of songs came together. I rearranged and de-arranged them until they tell the story of Diviners and Shivs [the new LP],” he says.
“They seemed to fit naturally with the country, blues and gospel songs I always held dear, and I hoped to record them, live, with someone who wanted to contribute to the sound and feel so that this wasn’t just a ‘dude with an acoustic’ record.”
DeNicola was enthusiastically on board for the recording.
“Jason wanted to do this like a performance art piece, a live recording straight to two-track tape, and I thought my barn studio in upstate New York would be the perfect setting,” DeNicola says.
“While Jason would be the only guitarist and singer, he saw the project as the work of a ‘band,’ with me and our engineer, Andris J. Balins, ‘playing’ the gear.”
And so Rust Dust made use of the large hayloft and milk house, placing different mics in various locations to capture subtle nuances.
They even used the corn silo as a reverb unit, putting a mic at the top and bottom and sending Stutts’ voice and guitar through a speaker. They also recorded outdoors to capture a more organic, country feel.
You’ll hear this process in the prison-break intensity of the title track and the rawboned blues of “Just Can’t Keep From Crying.”
You’ll feel it in the acidic sincerity of “Nothing Hurts Worse” and know it via a medley that teams Townes Van Zandt’s “Lungs” with Rust Dust’s “Modern Times” – a tragedy for the Trump era with rough and tumble guitar, before seg-waying into the possible salvation of “Everything Got Softer.”
There’s the jaunty delivery of “Wayfaring Stranger” and an “Amazing Grace” from your strangest dream.
“I hope everyone can listen and dream their own story of Diviners and Shivs. John and Andris made sonic changes live and played the barn, board and tape machine while we recorded straight to tape. It gives the album a cool sound and movement.”
The LP will officially drop on September 22nd via Omad Recordings.