The True Tunes Podcast

The True Tunes Podcast header image 1

Rich Mullins: The Lost Interview Pt 2 (Rich + McVicker, Madeira & Webb + Andrew Peterson on the Jukebox)

In Part 2 of this special episode we hear from our late friend, mentor, and guide, Rich Mullins via a long-lost interview conducted at the old True Tunes record store in Wheaton Illinois in 1995. We also check in with Mitch McVicker, Phil Madeira, and Derek Webb, and we listen to Andrew Peterson on the Jukebox. Rich’s Ragamuffin bandmates Jimmy Abegg, Aaron Smith, and Mark Robertson come back to close things out as well. It’s our longest and fullest episode yet and we are excited for everyone to hear it.


This newly restored interview is 25 years old, but as we hear host John J. Thompson and Mullins talk about the struggle to pursue honest artistry and personal spiritual growth amidst evangelical fundamentalism and the benefits and beauty of exposing ourselves to challenging ideas and people, it seems like it could have been recorded yesterday.  Visit for the full show notes and please spread the word. (And don't miss Part 1, where the Ragamuffins set the stage so beautifully.) 

Rich Mullins: The Lost Interview Pt. 1 (The Ragamuffins Set The Stage)

To many, singer and songwriter Rich Mullins was a favorite artist; the man behind songs like “Awesome God,” “Creed,” and “Hold Me Jesus.” To others, he was an enigma—a beautifully inscrutable amalgam of passion, authenticity, vulnerability, and transcendence. To some, he was a friend, a benefactor, or even a brother. On this special two-part episode of the True Tunes Podcast we will revisit the legacy of this unlikely pilgrim through conversations with some of his closest compatriots, and by hearing from the man himself – in the form of a previously unheard, and recently unearthed interview conducted in the old True Tunes record store in 1995.

In Part 1 John J. Thompson visits with Rich’s Ragamuffin Band members, Jimmy Abegg, Aaron Smith, and Mark Robertson to help put it all in perspective. On Part 2 (coming soon) he sits down with Mitch McVicker and Phil Madeira, and talks with singer-songwriter Derek Webb who, though he has moved away from Christian music, recently released a cover of Mullins’ “We Are Not As Strong As We Think We Are.” On the Jukebox, we dive into the obviously Mullins-haunted career of Andrew Peterson.


24 years since his passing, might we find some guidance from Rich about navigating the complexities of faith, doubt, and mystery by asking better questions and listening more carefully to the sounds around us?


Phil Madeira (Part 2 of 2) Jazz, Scapegoats, & Resolution

Host John J. Thompson is back in the living room of writer, multi-instrumentalist, producer, and artist Phil Madeira (Emmylou Harris, Buddy Miller, John Scofield,) to talk about his recent solo projects, Providence, Crickets, Open Heart, and Hornet’s Nest as they wrap up this wide-ranging chat. The conversation gets into pretty deep waters right out of the gate, with Phil sharing some very vulnerable context about personal relationship challenges, the pain that came with the loss of a loved one, his own search for answers, and his commitment to staying true to his calling and how that has shaped his work as an artist. We’ll ruffle some feathers on this one, no doubt, but that’s what art is supposed to do, right?

On the True Tunes Jukebox, we’ll take a deep dive into those recent solo albums, listening closely to some really interesting, and complicated, contemporary jazz-inflected Americana music and how it might help us find resolution in the midst of these complicated times. Full show notes are at - and don't miss the special corresponding "mixtape" curated by Madeira for this episode!

Thanks to our sponsors - Please consider sponsoring a child today. 


Phil Madeira (Part 1 of 2) Deep Roots & Expanding Horizons

He’s been a go-to side-man for too many A-listers to count and is currently a member of Emmylou Harris’ Red Dirt Boys. When he’s not in the studio or on the road with any number of amazing Americana, country, blues, or rock artists, he’s writing songs and recording his own albums or collaborating and producing amazing compilation projects. In Part 1 of this two-part deep dive into the life and work of multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, and artist, Phil Madeira, we learn about this musical polymath’s roots, evolution, and determination to shed limitations. Along the way, you’ll hear examples of his music, cuts he wrote for other artists, examples of his production work, and just a handful of the hundreds of tracks made so much cooler by the presence of his B3, lap-steel, or other instruments of soul.

In Part Two, we’ll wrap up this wide-ranging conversation and listen through Madeira’s most recent solo work, including his brand new project, Hornet’s Nest. Born from conflict, pain, and loss, these beautiful songs could only have been crafted by someone who has been there and back and lived to tell about it.

Full Show Notes, including song list, links, and contact info is available at or by clicking HERE. Thanks to our sponsors - Please consider sponsoring a child today. 


Kevin Max: Considering Boundaries + Mark Heard’s “Dry Bones Dance”

Kevin Max has been kicking against boundaries for over thirty years, first as one-third of a platinum-selling pop-rap group, (DC Talk,) and then as a poet and genre testing indie artist. Now he’s leaving his solo career behind to launch a new band, Sad Astronauts, right after releasing an acclaimed tribute to Larry Norman’s celebrated Only Visiting This Planet album. What might we be able to glean from an artist like Kevin when it comes to pushing into new territory, redefining success, and becoming more mindful of the boundaries we work within – or allow to define us?

And on the jukebox we crank up the legendary Mark Heard’s tentpole album, Dry Bones Dance, as we anticipate Lo-Fidelity Records’ upcoming super deluxe reissue, by talking with two of the artists who worked with Heard on that album, vocalist Kate Miner and bassist and Chapman Stick maestro, Fergus Marsh. We are also excited to present the late Mark Heard himself in the form of some vintage interview tape-recorded around the time of the album's original release in 1990.

Support the True Tunes Podcast on Patreon for early access to episodes, high-fidelity downloads, special online meetups with the hosts and guests, and to support our mission to inspire better listening. 

Jukebox Takeover #3: 20 Great Albums of 2020

We’re not calling these the BEST ALBUMS of the YEAR – but they are all pretty great. Yes, there are several other amazing records that are on other lists, or that everyone is talking about. But these are 20 albums that really stuck with us from 2020.

What are yours?

Make sure to FOLLOW our weekly Gallery Stage Mixtape for a blend of great music, new and old, of diverse genres, that is updated weekly. And if you want to see what you have missed over the last few years, check out the massive ARCHIVE list. If you have an “album of the year” that we did not touch on, drop us a line and let us know. We may include it on THIS EXTENDED LIST of great albums from 2020. And don’t miss this extended list of SINGLES from 2020. When we call this whole thing a conversation, we are serious! Join us at 


Jukebox Takeover #2 The Christmas Music of Over The Rhine (Making Space for Beauty and Grace)

On this special “Christmas Jukebox Takeover” edition of the podcast, we take a look at the three Christmas music releases by Over The Rhine, as well as their live-streamed 2020 Concert Special and Fundraiser, and talk about their long example of intentionally making space for beauty and grace, and how Christmas might serve as a sort of artistic and liturgical example for all of us during these cold days. Pour yourself something cheerful, make yourself comfortable, and join us by the speakers for a musical Christmas card that we hope might propel us all into, and through, the darkness that we know cannot overcome us.

Spec Ed #2: The Conversation So Far (Learning To Listen)

On this Special Edition of the True Tunes Podcast, we look back at some special moments from our first 18 months as we have discovered our mission to listen to better music and listen to music better – together. We have gathered some favorite clips from our times with Steve Taylor, Phil Keaggy and Rex Paul, Buddy Miller, Tommee Profitt, Charlie Peacock, Christa Wells, Eddie DeGarmo, Liz Vice, Waterdeep, Ella Mine, Marc Byrd, Daniel Smith, Chris White, Sandra McCracken, Ian Fitchuk, and both Larry Norman and his son Mike. In fact, we have included a previously unheard clip from a long lost conversation with Larry as well as a snippet from an upcoming episode with artist and poet Kevin Max. It’s a look back, and forward, as we take stock of this conversation that is just getting started and contemplate the value of conversation, relationships, and the postures and perspectives that allow us to continue to learn.

Marc Byrd “Hidden” BONUS Episode w Marc Byrd: (Hammock Live, Theology, and TT Patreon Launch)

This is an out-of-sequence "bonus track" from the conversation with Marc Byrd (Hammock, Common Children) that was hidden on the Show Notes page for the previous episode, and only a handful of folks found it. If you have not heard that episode check it out first. Here, Marc and John talk about the possible return of Hammock, and maybe even Common Children, in concert - and riff a bit more on the challenge of pursuing theological understanding. This "bonus track" also represents the launch of the new True Tunes PATREON program. In the future, extended conversations such as this will be available to our patrons! Find more information at 

Marc Byrd: Hammock, God of Wonders, & Hearing the Beauty Beyond the Noise

As one half of the instrumental duo Hammock, Marc Byrd has been crafting some of the most influential ambient music of the last 20 years. His songs have found their way into major films, the stunning Ricky Gervais Netflix show After Life, and many more amazing places. But prior to his current career in the post-rock vanguard, Byrd wrote one of the biggest “worship” songs of the last couple of decades (“God of Wonders,”) and got his start in the alternative Christian rock world. And all along he has been haunted by the lingering effects of abuse, addiction, and trauma. On this episode of the True Tunes Podcast, we engage in an extended conversation with a man who is learning how to listen to the sounds resonating deeply within his heart, soul, and mind, and is inviting us to do the same.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App