Small Talk: JUSTIN RUTLEDGE

Who are you and what do you do:
My name is Justin Rutledge and I am a singer/songwriter/sometimes actor and full-time dog lover. I also have a band in Los Angeles called Early Winters.

Current obsessions:
I have always been interested in baking. In high school I would skip class and head home to bake while my parents were at work. It’s not that I have a sweet tooth (I often do not partake in the ‘consumption’ of my labours). I guess I just enjoy spending time in the kitchen.

A song or a record that will always put you in a good mood, without fail:
A friend of mine, Tom McCamus—who is one of Canada’s greatest stage actors—recently turned me on to Van Morrisson’s ‘Veedon Fleece’. I’m not sure how this album has escaped me up until this point. I always considered myself an ‘Astral Weeks’ guy, but ‘VF’ is my favourite album of his by far. Also, ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ by The Waterboys has always made me feel like having children.

Tell us about an album or artist you think is really under-appreciated, and why they are deserving of more praise:
I always thought that Jason Molina’s Magnolia Electric Co should have been bigger than they were. It was so sad to hear of his passing earlier this year. I had heard that he was struggling with some demons, so I sent him a postcard wishing him strength. The world is a lesser place without his craft.

Most played track on your iTunes:
‘July Flame’ by Laura Viers.

Most cherished musical object:
I’m not really a musician that collects gear. I have my father’s guitar. He bought it in the late ‘70s. It’s a Washburn. He wanted to learn 2 songs: CSNY’s ‘Teach Your Children’ and ‘Four Strong Winds’. He bought the guitar, learned those songs, and never really played the guitar again. I thought that was a very ‘Rutledge’ thing to do.

Proudest moment:
There have been a few:
Dolly Parton giving my ass a couple of lovetaps.
Gord Downie calling me by name at a function at the Phoenix.
Performing at the 2011 Junos in Toronto.
Any time people tell me they like what I do.

Most vulnerable moment:
Every time I get on stage I have this fear that I’m going to throw up, so on show days I can’t eat after 1pm. Which ultimately ends in me not eating for 12 hours. It is a very unnatural thing for me to do: to stand on stage and play songs I have written, in front of people I may or may not know. It is a frightening thing, to me. It takes a lot out of me, and sometimes I want to quit and work at an apiary, but I have been dealt this strange card and I guess this is the game.

If you could score a film for anyone, who would it be any why:
I would like to think Terrence Mallick, but then he would probably hate what I come up with, so… I think Clint Eastwood might enjoy working with me, even though he’s a jazz guy.

Your favourite use of a song in a film:
There is a scene in Cool Hand Luke when Luke (Paul Newman) learns that his mother has passed away. All the prisoners clear the way as he trudges slowly down the row of beds and not one of them says a word. Some vacate the room. Paul Newman finally gets to his bunk and sits down, his eyes fixed and steely blue as he picks up his banjo and sings two verses of a song called ‘Plastic Jesus.’ I think two tears fall from his eyes. And that’s it—that is how he deals with the death of his mother, whom he loved most of all.

Favourite venue to play in and why:
I feel most at home at the Horseshoe for some reason. Perhaps it’s due to the history there. The ghosts of music past. There is no pretense at the Horseshoe, which I love. The stage is an ample size, people get sweaty and drunk, and I’m able to leave myself elsewhere.

Dream venue to play in and why:
I honestly feel that I’ve played the places I once dreamed of playing. Every venue is now officially gravy.

First band t-shirt you ever purchased from a merch table:
It was a Cypress Hill t-shirt from their concert at Varsity Arena back in the early 90s. House of Pain opened. It was epic!

Band you’d leave your bandmates for:
The Heartbreakers.

Album you want to expose your kin to whilst in the womb:
Keith Jarrett’s ‘The Koln Concert.’

If for some reason you lost the ability to make and play music, what would fill that gap:
I come from a long line of social workers, so I may end up in that field, and would love to, some day. Something other than the music business, anyway.

What was your last dream about:
Something about a boy, something about a name, some book was read aloud, someone carried a cross, someone harboured a sense of blame, some foreign love was aligned, someone’s mouth was burdened, something about a road, something about a train, suddenly there was a knock upon the door…