Local tunesmiths Diane and Jack Untz, better known by Murfreesboro music aficionados as the hosts of Jack and Diane’s Music Circle, celebrate music and the craft of songwriting every Wednesday night at downtown’s Center for the Arts. Their show follows a format similar to VH-1’s “Storytellers” in which featured artists not only perform, but discuss their songs and writing techniques, making it more than just a typical concert experience.
Their story began when their paths crossed in Atlanta while Diane was auditioning guitar players for her road band in the early stages of her singing and songwriting career. Not having much luck, Diane was given Jack’s phone number by a mutual friend who thought they would work well together, although she was warned not to date him. Needless to say, Diane was blown away by Jack’s musical abilities and their ten-year personal and professional relationship was born. The couple bonded over their similar tastes in music, which include Bonnie Raitt, The Eagles, Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt. They eventually married after Jack jokingly said, “she was going to have to marry me if she wanted to keep me,” and they have remained together since.
Diane is a vocalist and songwriter, while Jack plays guitar, mandolin, lap steel, Dobro and banjo. After Diane was offered a recording contract in Nashville by a major label, the duo decided it was time to make their move and pursue their dream. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t right and after massive Music Row layoffs and budget cuts, the record deal ultimately fell through. However, all was not lost because this experience afforded Jack and Diane the opportunity to make a lot of important friendships within Music City’s elite circle of superb songwriters and local artists. These friends, who make up a sizable talent pool, are frequently called upon to perform during Jack and Diane’s weekly talent showcase.
In between their Wednesday night hosting and performing duties, Jack and Diane stay busy following their own musical aspirations. They released their own album, Play For Me, in January, which is a superb collection of their songs performed in a stripped down acoustic setting.
When asked about the recording process, Diane explained, “We took a very unconventional approach. We recorded everything live in the studio in one day. We wanted to duplicate what we do live. We didn’t have time to think about it. I don’t like to over think everything.” she said.
They also filmed a music video for the album’s title track, which was shot nearby at a friend’s house and included a lot of friends and fans as extras. “I hated every minute of it,” Jack confessed of the music video experience. “We wanted it to look real and very authentic and I think we achieved that. We had a lot of fun,” Diane added. Jack later admitted he was happy with the way it turned out and ultimately ended up having a good time.
The video is an excellent extension of the duo’s laid back yet emotional style, which is a blend of easy listening and country. The couple’s distinctive sound is prominently displayed in their songs that have been captured on their album. When listening to their music, it isn’t obvious that writing songs is such hard work for the team. While elaborating on their songwriting process, Diane revealed she usually writes the lyrics first and Jack then composes the music. They both compared the experience to “birthing a baby,” and admitted “the real work is communicating musical ideas to each other.”
As the discussion segued to the current state of the music business, they both agreed that it is an exciting time to be an artist. They went on to explain how the Internet has opened up endless opportunities and unlimited avenues for artists to share their music with an audience. “People are no longer being deprived of great music. It’s hard to find something real nowadays. The music has to be good. It has to be able to stand on its own,” Diane explained.
When asked what advice they would give other artists and songwriters Jack said, “Listen, listen and listen. Listen carefully and you will learn what’s good and what’s not.” Diane offered these words of wisdom, “There’s no elevator to success, take the stairs. There is no short cut. Stay true to yourself. Don’t rush it. The journey is the destination. It all counts. Every step of the process is necessary.”
Ultimately, Jack and Diane would like to see their show evolve into Murfreesboro’s own modern day Opry, focusing on songwriters and becoming a real tourist destination. They are also contemplating the possibility of future guitar and songwriting workshops. “We want to educate the public on great artists, singers and songwriters,” Diane declared.
Jack and Diane’s love and passion for music is clear and certainly explains their motivation for creating a weekly showcase. They saw a real need for a place where local talent could perform and truly be appreciated and shown the respect they deserve. What they have created is a place where artists and music lovers can gather and share an exciting and unique experience with each other. People are even encouraged to enjoy the casual table picnic setting by bringing their own food and beverages to the show or taking advantage of appetizing meals supplied by The Chef Place.
Jack and Diane’s Music Circle is one of Murfreesboro’s unique treasures and is a great way to spend an incredible evening with music-loving friends.