Mike Scutari keeps a piece of folded paper in his wallet as if it were a secret treasure map. It doesn’t contain information leading to buried riches but it does contain a treasure of another type: a definitive list of 20 Americana and country albums every music lover should own.
There’s additional uniqueness attached to Scutari’s prized piece of paper: A bearded hobo, who went by Hotbox Harry, wrote it for him a decade ago.
“He’s a throwback to the dustbowl era,” Scutari says. “I wasn’t really aware of country music at the time we met and [Harry] was like a doorway into that kind of music.”
Scutari and Harry’s first encounter reads like it could have come from a Jim Jarmusch screenplay: It was a dark and lonely night at a bar just outside of Arcadia; Scutari had just finished playing a show with a band he used to be in.
“There was this guy sitting in the corner of the bar,” he says. “He was this rolly-polly, bearded man who would smile at us every so often….”