Tom is an incredible person and a great friend. He is one of those people I’ve felt I have always known. To be honest, I can’t remember exactly when or how we connected! It just seems like he has always been around, and that is ok with me. I have always admired Tom’s great passion for music, and not surprisingly, that is what he focused on here. Enjoy!
1. How do you define “passion”?
As an urge to create or explore in a specific area or direction. It’s not uncontrollable but it is urgent. You’re compelled by something not terribly logical or very easily explained, and you feel diminished or slightly less “you” if you don’t pursue it in some way.
2. What is your passion?
(Wait, I only get to pick one? Just kidding…) Music! I enjoy just about everything musical; listening, discovering new favorites, making playlists for friends or road trips, singing, playing bass and performing, whether it’s a jam session, open mic, or an actual paying gig.
3. How did you know that this was a passion and not just a passing interest?
I was hooked at an early age; I remember obsessively listening to “American Top 40” and rock & roll radio stations on my transistor radio as kid. I loved watching the Monkees after school on TV. I collected 45’s and LPs (yeah, I’m old), traded, discussed and argued with friends about what we liked and didn’t like, made mixtapes for friends (and girlfriends), and vacuumed up any information on my favorite artists from magazines. “Obsession” doesn’t quite capture it.
My parents started me with piano lessons just before adolescence kicked in; I wound up quitting after my teacher wouldn’t show me how to play “Beth” by KISS. (Teenage hormones & discipline do not mix very well.)
My first real rock concert was Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (“River” tour, 1981). That was not my first rock show though; months before, I’d seen my first local bar band and was awestruck by their take on Queen’s “Dragon Attack.”
Later on, my buddy Bert showed me the electric bass. Turns out that I took to the bass more naturally than piano, and soon I’d played a few times with friends in informal jams, which led to playing at parties, being in bands, writing songs, learning how to really sing (and not clear the room), and eventually some paying gigs.
I had a lot of fun working in radio, starting at my college radio station (WUSC) and two local commercial stations (WSCQ & WNOK) before moving into a retail career.
Even when involved in other projects, like community theatre, I kept coming back to music. In fact, the first time I had a chance to direct a play, I chose a musical (“Nunsense”). By the way, you have to be a little nuts to tackle a musical as a first-time director, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.
Music capped my retail career when I worked in Walmart Radio, first as production manager then general manager, programming music and commercial content for Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs throughout the US and Canada.
4. How do you make sure you follow your passion and nurture it?
I find music in a lot of places, but I mostly use the internet and Spotify to discover new artists and sounds. Trying to keep my ears open to the new keeps me from getting old! ;^)
Also, I try to play at least ten minutes each day, even if it’s just improvisational noodling. Most of the time I’m actually pursuing a goal, such as learning a new song, writing something, or finding a new way to play something old and familiar. I find You Tube videos to help me learn new songs or decipher a complex pattern. Chord structures and tabs are available on different sites, but I’m mostly driven by my own desire.
5. What is your advice to other people who are trying to find or follow their passion?
Outside of my piano lessons, I had little encouragement (and quite a bit of discouragement) about pursuing music for a career; when I got older and could see how many different jobs and roles one could have involving music, I realized that my parents and past counselors had been short-sighted. Considering the amazing opportunities that we have via global communication with the internet, there are likely even more opportunities than before. If you keep your eyes and ears open to the possibilities, you’ll likely find opportunities to pursue your passion – and get paid for it – throughout your life. Acknowledge the doubters and try to stay grounded, while you just keep reaching for those stars!
6. Anything else you want to say?
I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug some of the amazing artists that I’ve been listening to (and I’d love to know who YOU are listening to as well!):
Sara Morgan https://youtu.be/6g488J1sjtY
Gregory Porter https://youtu.be/9HvpIgHBSdo
Jason Isbell https://youtu.be/ZtgPeNKpnyw
Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats https://youtu.be/1iAYhQsQhSY
Leon Bridges https://youtu.be/pgS_xob1x4A
Chris Stapleton https://youtu.be/4zAThXFOy2c