At the age of 11, Jeff Troutman was traveling to visit his mother in East Texas when the unthinkable happened.
A drunken driver crossed the center line and hit his vehicle head-on. His hip was shattered, and Troutman’s middle school years were spent in either a wheelchair or walker or on crutches.
But Troutman didn’t lose heart after the traumatic experience. He simply adjusted to his new reality, a theme consistent across his entire life.
Lying on his back during the recovery process, he noticed his dad’s guitar and remembered his mom played some. So Troutman decided to learn the guitar, right then and there.
“If my mom can pound out a couple of chords, I probably can, too,” he remembers thinking.
Music fans across the country are thankful Troutman picked up that guitar. He’s a former member of the early-2000s band Parts Unknown. Troutman's first solo album, Songs About Fly Fishing, was released in 2017.
The Hudsonville resident’s latest musical project is Jeff Troutman and the Parachute Adams Band
, which released its first album, Heaven
, on Feb. 15.
"I have lived in Michigan for two decades now, longer than I've ever lived in any one place," Troutman says in a release. "The way the region engages the senses throughout the year has definitely colored my music. At the same time, I still have a warm spot in my heart for the great Texas artists like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, and Robert Keen."
Troutman now believes his drive for music has roots in his spiritual upbringing. After the accident, when his musical talent became clear, he started playing at church. His charismatic faith stressed that God can physically heal people, and Troutman hoped to experience that.
“It was almost like I was trying to receive a physical healing from God and, maybe, if I please him enough through music and lead worship at my church and finally arrive at a certain point, maybe I will receive that healing,” he says. “I think my drive to it was, probably a lot in my younger years, was trying to please God. … I was told that if you don’t use your talents for God, God is going to take it away. There’s a parable in the Bible about talents” that suggests this.
Troutman eventually attended Bible school before moving to Michigan to become a worship pastor at a megachurch. A few years into it, he decided he couldn’t continue down that path any longer.
He says his faith journey inspired the title track, “Heaven,” on the Jeff Troutman and the Parachute Adams Band album.
“I have no absolutes in that area. I wish I did. It would really calm me down a lot if we understood the meaning of life,” he says. “... It’s almost like, ‘Well, you can say whatever you want but this is the heaven I know: being out on the river, fly fishing, spending time with my friends, developing deep relationships with people that I love. After that, I have no idea what’s going to happen.”
His other passion
Beyond music, Troutman's other passion is clear: fly fishing.
He says he picked it up to cope with stress from a difficult job and raising a young family. Troutman enjoyed it so much, he started a fly-fishing podcast called Remote. No Pressure.
“I thought, ‘I would really like to share this with other people,’” Troutman said. “We’re on our fourth season right now. And it’s been a really, really cool journey. I have met some really good people. I made some really good relationships. I guess that’s my church now.”
Listen as Troutman tells the rest of his story and performs an exclusive, not-yet-released song on The Gonsior Show podcast