Ethos

Hello, my name is Ed Hudgins. Tomme Suab is my baby, my own little pet project. Like a real human child, TS has grown and developed over the years. Such change is not a scary thing. I’m convinced that when something stops growing, it starts dying. So, I both drive and embrace change for Tomme Suab. Four years in, I am still learning what this thing is.

TS was borne out of my initial connection with local music in the Chippewa Valley, here in western Wisconsin. Through contributing to our local magazine Volume One and Visit Eau Claire’s blog, I began to get a glimpse of the amazing depth and breadth of musical talent and creativity living here. Locally-rooted musicians like Jonathan Sunde, Addie Strei, Shane Leonard, and Dave Power made their mark on me, and I wanted to find ways to promote this incredible talent. From such desire arose TS.

As it turns out, that connection with locally-rooted music was only the door into a larger focus. Early in the life of this blog, I began to embrace how music impacts me emotionally. In fact, it is the emotive qualities of music that speak to me more than any other aspect. Yes, I appreciate creativity, honest songwriting, precise musicianship, and strong production. But, those are means to an end for me. For me, it is all about where the song or album is going to take me emotionally, engaging in those emotions as I engage with the music, and letting that process help me grow personally.

As TS’s focus shifted to the emotionality of music, the door opened for me to write about and celebrate other artists; artists known nationally, indie artists, and everything in-between. TS has featured everyone from madly popular Grammy winners to bands who haven’t gained much traction just yet to indie all-stars to, yes, musicians from the Chippewa Valley. No matter who it is, the common denominator is that each one has moved my emotional “needle” in some way. The hope has been that the songs and artists featured have done the same thing for those who have engaged in the blog.

There is another undeniable theme in TS. I am an unashamed follower of Jesus. I make no apologies for this and that truth is foundational for me in life overall, and certainly in how I manage TS. In fact, the process of my own understanding of the emotionality of music and how it impacts me is a spiritual matter for me. In 2011, John Mark McMillan’s How He Loves, an anthem celebrating the passionate, pursuing love of God, transitioned from “pie in the sky” emotional blabbering (in my mind) to a deeply intimate, truth-telling song that helped me grasp, on some level, how much God really loves me. And that experience was transformational. If you’re interested, I shared more about that experience some time ago here: The Song That Changed Everything. My relationship with and effort to become more like Jesus shape what I do with TS, and I hope every other aspect of how I do life.

Now, if I was someone who regularly engaged with Tomme Suab, especially the weekly TS10 playlists, reading about this Jesus-orientation would lead me to ask some questions. Specifically, I would want to understand how following Jesus relates to or meshes with some of the songs and artists which have been featured. Specifically, what about songs, especially lyrics, that seem a little questionable lyrically from a Christian perspective? I think that’s an important question actually.

I am very intentional about what I feature on TS. Certainly, much thought goes into  posts about specific songs, artists, or other topics. But, I am also very intentional about the songs I share on the TS10 playlists. I vet the songs fairly rigorously and am constantly scouting and reviewing music that I think might fit what I am trying to accomplish here, which is ultimately connecting the reader/listener with the emotionality in music. I try to steer away from songs in which there is what I would deem gratuitous foul language or content. And, I will not feature anything that is abusive or explicitly evil. For example, I will not feature death metal songs focused on murder and I will not feature hip hop artists that degrade women.

However, I do not shy away from provocative content. “Swearing” is allowed on TS. I may muffle certain words on a given song being featured on the playlist, but for many of us, certain “taboo” words carry emotional weight that “darn” and “shoot” just can’t carry. Regarding actual lyrical substance, there have certainly been some unsavory themes on the TS10. I can think specifically of a song about a guy planning to run off with someone else’s wife. I hesitated to share that one, but I found that it impacted me emotionally. As I engaged with the song on a deeper level, I could hear the pain and tension in the lyrics (life situations aren’t always simple or “black and white”). It felt like the kind of pain and tension worth sharing on TS. This is how I process content some may think is questionable. Again, the songs selected for the TS10 are chosen very intentionally.

For TS friends who are also following Jesus, if you have questions about any of the content, I would welcome them. Please email me at ed@tommesuab.com. I do not aim to be a “stumbling block” for any of my Christian brothers and sisters. To the contrary, I would hope TS would draw you closer to Jesus. Perhaps the emotional provocation you may feel while listening to something you think is questionable can be very purposeful. Perhaps, it can lead you to a deeper level of introspection in which you can invite God to show you what’s going on in your heart and mind. Speaking from personal experience, that process can be immensely healing and liberating. I believe I am closer to Jesus for going through such processes.

For TS friends who are not following Jesus, that process of engaging with your emotions is still valid and can be incredibly helpful. I’m not going to lie, I would love for you to experience Jesus for yourself (after all, I’m a pastor at heart). God is good and he loves us… for real. But, you don’t have to follow Jesus for TS to be meaningful for you. We are built to feel. Music can help us feel, sometimes even helping us feel emotions we’ve pressed deep down into our souls, emotions we need to process to grow, heal, and experience a better life. If you ever have any questions about these dynamics (or Jesus), I invite you to reach out to me as well: ed@tommesuab.com.

No matter your faith allegiance, I truly believe TS can be a healing resource for anyone who chooses to engage with music on an emotional level. If you hear lyrics or movements within a song that make you feel uncomfortable, stop and ask yourself why. Maybe ask God about it as well. If you read something overtly Jesus-centric and that doesn’t resonate with you, I invite you to read anyway if you’d like. Maybe there’s something there for you. Or maybe you hear music on the playlist that doesn’t fit within the normal categories of stuff you “like.” Maybe experimental jazz, acoustic singer/songwriter stuff, hip hop, hard rock, or some other style isn’t really your thing. I would invite you to engage with it anyway. We all need to be pushed from time to time. Maybe there’s something in engaging with such music that will help you grow personally. And maybe you’ll even expand your categories!

Regardless of why you have chosen to engage with Tomme Suab, I want to thank you. I have been truly amazed at how many people have read my posts and listened to my playlists over the last few years. It has been encouraging and humbling. I’ve also been humbled by the connections I’ve made with artists from all over the States, and some from other countries as well. So, thank you for walking this path with me, even if you only took one step. It means much.

As mentioned above, Tomme Suab is still evolving. I recently shared my thoughts about each day of Holy Week. That was a new thing for this blog. I’ve touched on some political and social issues. Who knows what’s next? But, I invite you to engage with this and with me and be a part of this evolution. And, if you have ideas for the blog, let me know!

Sincerely,
Ed Hudgins