Tom Hall: National Steel Guitar, 5- and 6-String Banjo
Tom Hall has been undisputed occupant of “first chair” in every band he’s played in, whether it’s the Geyer Street Sheiks, River City Rhythm, The Illusions, The Fighting Molly McGuires or any of the others. Of course, the respect he now enjoys didn’t just fall into his lap; in the 20 plus years he’s been a working professional, Tom’s paid his dues with interest, playing on street corners, festivals, bars and concerts across the continent, Ireland and Europe.
Tom’s music was originally based on blues mentors Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Blind Blake and Rev. Gary Davis to name only a few. He has since broadened his repertoire to include eclectic fingerstyle guitar, clawhammer banjo and Irish tenor banjo. This encompasses music from the Americas to Ireland, Madagascar, Argentina and whatever suits his fancy.
Tom’s playing has brought him acclaim from appearances on National Public Radio’s “Good Evening America” with Noah Adams to the stages he’s shared with The Neville Brothers, Count Basie, Lightin’ Hopkins, Albert King, Guy Clark and many others. He currently plays solo and as a trio with Charlie Pfeffer and Blake Travis.
His solo CD “Right Down There on Lee Street” was released independently in 2006.
His numerous awards include: Best Folk Band, Best Solo Artist and most recently, Critic’s Choice for Best Acoustic Guitarist In St. Louis by the Riverfront Times. He is also the youngest musician listed by the Missouri Historical Society as one of the best of Missouri’s blues performersâ€¦or at least they put that poster with his name on it in one of their museum displays.
“The sounds his guitar makes are magnetic, earthy in their rhythmic thump, impossibly sensible in the unpredictable, private constellations he draws between the sparkle of notes. He sounds like Mississippi John Hurt filtered through Ireland back through Robert Johnson’s Delta back through St. Louis ragtime. He no longer copies anyone but follows his own eccentricities.” — Roy Kasten, Riverfront Times
“Not unlike early Ry Cooder, Leo Kottke or David Lindley, at his best Hall mixes and matches bits of the roots-music vernacular to create something fresh from the familiar… Hall’s guitar playing is first-rate, featuring an encyclopedic grasp of the blues vocabulary and clean, rhythmically precise picking that touches a variety of stylistic bases while retaining plenty of soul.” — Dean C. Minderman, Riverfront Times
Recent article by Bill McClellan on a benefit which raised money to replace Tom’s stolen 1932 national guitar.
Photo credits: Marlon Fields & Paul Maring