"I believe music can heal and educate people. Music can be used for social change and can help break down walls bring people together."
Tom Hambridge: The Real Power of Music
Tom Hambridge is a Four-time Grammy™- winning producer, songwriter, & drummer for his production work on three of blues legend Buddy Guy’s most critically acclaimed albums: ‘Living Proof’ (2011) , “Born to Play Guitar’ (2016), ‘The Blues is Alive and Well’ (2018), and for his work on Christone “Kingfish” Ingram’s Album ‘662’ (2022). Tom has also produced 9 other Grammy nominated albums. He has won numerous Blues Music Awards and W.C. Handy Awards, eight Boston Music Awards and several ASCAP Country Music Awards. He’s the recipient of the prestigious KBA (Keeping the Blues Alive) Award in Memphis and has been inducted into the Buffalo Music Hall of Fame. The list of artist collaborators includes: Gary Clark Jr., Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, B.B. King, Gregg Allman, Keith Richards, Jeff Beck, Billy Gibbons, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood and Susan Tedeschi, among many others. Over 600 of Tom’s songs have been recorded (and many top charted) by such diverse artists as: Buddy Guy, Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, Rascal Flatts, Eric Burdon (The Animals,) James Cotton, Foghat, Delbert McClinton, Van Zant, and Joe Bonamassa. Tom has also recorded, performed and toured with Chuck Berry, Boston, Hank Williams Jr., Buddy Guy, Bo Diddley, Susan Tedeschi, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood & the Destroyers and Keb’ Mo’, among many others.
(Photo: Tom Hambridge)
As a prolific solo recording artist, Tom has released seven well-regarded albums including The NOLA Sessions (2018), which was inspired by the beauty and creative depth of New Orleans. Tom set out to create a biographical blues LP by leveraging the immense talents of local musicians and legends including the late, great Allen Toussaint, Clapton’s favorite slide guitarist, Sonny Landreth, and the B3 mastery of Ivan Neville, as well as rich artistic contributions drawn from New Orleans’ musical heritage. The Nola Sessions has been Top 5 in the Roots Music Report’s Blues and Contemporary Blues charts for over 28 weeks. His new album "Blu Ja Vu" (2023, QUARTO VALLEY RECORDS) is a look back at some of the songs Hambridge has written or co-written – usually with Richard Fleming — and produced for his musical friends. A few of them return the favor here, so it’s bluesy déjà vu all over again. Tom Hambridge sits down with friends including Buddy Guy, Joe Bonamassa, and Christone “Kingfish” Ingram to perform his songs created over the years.
How has the Blues and Rock n Roll culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?
Tom: Music has taken me all around the world. I believe the real true power of Blues and Rock and Roll is whether I’m performing my music in India, China, Czechoslovakia or Spain, even if they can’t understand the words they feel the energy of the music. It’s a common language that unites all cultures and speaks to everyone.
How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook?
Tom: My sound is a mixture of everything. Like a gumbo. I use all my influences. I love all music so when I’m creating there are no rules.
Where does your creative drive come from?
Tom: I think I was born with it. It’s my passion, it’s in my blood. I have to do it.
"Never stop listening and learning. You can always get better. I’m always trying to find new ways of creating better music. Also stay in the game. There will be many bumps in the road along the way. Just keep getting back up and stay in the game." (Tom Hambridge / Photo © by David Dobson)
Is there a message you are trying to convey with your songs?
Tom: Depends on the song I’m writing. It could be a song of hope or forgiveness like “Skin Deep” or “My Whiskey Years” a song about moving on from a difficult past. It also could be just a fun uplifting song like “Get Outta Town” from my new album “Blu Ja Vu about the freedom of taking a long overdue road trip across the country with someone you love!
What is the role of a producer/songwriter in today’s music?
Tom: Many producers are hired to make sure the bands music gets recorded properly. I’m not only a Producer but also a songwriter.
Artists and bands come to me to write or co-write the songs and also produce, arrange and record the album.
What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past?
Tom: I miss record stores where you could spend all day checking out albums, finding new music and also reading liner notes and credits to find out who played on the record, who wrote the songs, where it was recorded. I’d love for that to come back.
What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?
Tom: I’ve feel blessed to have been given the gift of music. I started playing the drums at 4 years old. As far as I can remember I’ve been a musician. I have been able to record, play with and hear my songs sung by all of my heroes from Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Van Morrison, BB King, ZZ Top, Gregg Allman, Carlos Santana and so many others. I never in my wildest dreams would have believed that any of this was possible but it goes to show if you work hard and dream big sometimes dreams can come true.
"Music has taken me all around the world. I believe the real true power of Blues and Rock and Roll is whether I’m performing my music in India, China, Czechoslovakia or Spain, even if they can’t understand the words they feel the energy of the music. It’s a common language that unites all cultures and speaks to everyone." (Photos: Tom Hambridge with Gregg Allman, Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbins, BB King, Jeff Beck, and Roy Buchanan. Hambridge has been such a prodigious creator and producer of music that Guy says of him: “Someone like that comes along only once in a lifetime. I call him the white Willie Dixon.”)
If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?
Tom: I wish all musicians and songwriters could get paid enough to make a living and keep creating.
What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?
Tom: I believe music can heal and educate people. Music can be used for social change and can help break down walls bring people together.
What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?
Tom: Never stop listening and learning. You can always get better. I’m always trying to find new ways of creating better music. Also stay in the game. There will be many bumps in the road along the way. Just keep getting back up and stay in the game.
(Tom Hambridge / Photo © by Krzysztof Szafraniec)
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