Guitarist Tom Principato has been a mainstay on the Washington, D.C. blues scene for more than 40 years. Tom’s new CD was inspired by family, friends and collaborators who helped shape his life on and off the stage.
Like many kids growing up in the 1960s, Tom Principato dreamed of playing guitar in a rock and roll band. As a teenager, he honed his guitar and vocal skills while modeling his style after the era’s great Chicago blues musicians. Tom says he became a serious blues fan after hearing such legends as Willie Dixon and Muddy Waters.
“In those days some of those guys were still alive and performing and you could see them," he said. "Their records were pretty obscure, so it was a challenge to try to find them. But, in those days, you could still get 78s and 45s, and that’s where a lot of that music was found.”
Tom began his career with the blues-rock band Powerhouse in the 1970s, while working as a sideman with Big Mama Thornton and Sunnyland Slim. Tom later launched a label under the name Powerhouse Records, releasing his own albums as well as albums by other top Washington-area blues artists.
His latest effort “A Part Of Me” is a culmination of his many years in the studio and on tours around the world. Tom says the album is mostly autobiographical…which explains why old family photos grace the cover.
“The title cut and actually a couple of other songs on the album are basically about lost loved ones," he said. "My father was a professional photographer so my childhood was well documented.”
Joining Tom are noted keyboardists Chuck Leavell and Brian Auger, Memphis Horns trumpeter Wayne Jackson, guitarist Sonny Landreth, bassist Willie Weeks, and drummer Jim Brock.
In support of the album, Tom and his band will tour Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, before heading to Europe for concerts in Germany, Denmark, and Norway.
Still one of today’s busiest blues musicians, Tom believes that interest in live music actually peaked about 30 years ago.
“Everyone went out and supported live music, and the nightclubs thrived and there were a lot of people going out," he said. "A typical gig would be for a week in a club. Now, far fewer people are going out and a typical gig is just one night instead of a week. People have a lot of things that are vying for their entertainment attention and most of them are free.”
For more on Tom Principato and other recordings on his label, check out tomprincipato.com, or go to powerhouserecords.com.