I met Tom the first
time I attended the South Bay Open Mic in January of 2007. When we
heard each other play we knew right away that there was common ground,
and that we should be playing music together. I remember jamming on
some Miles tunes at the Spring SBF picnic. We weren’t great immediately
but we had fun and acknowledged that each had something to teach the
We played together off and on for a few
years, and then we joined Mike Simpson as Sad But True. We put together
a good repertoire of vocal and instrumental standards form the Great
Although Tom and I
were not instantly great together, we always enjoyed each other and we
were persistent. In the last two years of playing together, we were
good. When Tom’s health was failing in the last six months, he still
saved up his energy so that we could practice on Wednesday nights, and
he brought energy and cheer to all our music together. The very last
time we played together, scarcely a month before he died, we talked and
played some music. We played “Body and Soul” for the first time
together, and we swung our asses off. It was one of the best nights of
music of my life.
whole time that we were friends Tom knew that he was sick. When he took
a turn for the worst in late ‘10 / early ‘11 he decided to put together
a show of his favorite Beatles tunes. Along with his son Michael, all
of his friends from South Bay Folks, and Mike and I from Sad But True,
he put together a two hour show of Beatles music at Mission City
Coffee. A wonderful time was had by all. I was honored to sing the only
two Beatles songs that my vocal range can cover, Revolution, and A
Little Help From My Friends. All in all the concert and Tom's entusiasm were a lesson in how to live this life.
in early 2011 Tom arranged for us to go up to Yoshi’s to see Chick
Corea, one of his favorites. Tom picked me up after work and drove. We
chatted and one thing led to another and we ended up talking about
religion. He asked me whether I believed in God and when I said no he
wanted to hear more. We talked about Monism, materialism, science, the
feeling of being alive and a wide range of stuff. It was one of those
very rare moments when you get to see life through another person’s
eyes and also to feel truly understood by another human. I felt good
for days afterward.
his health worsened in the last few months, Tom kept playing with many
friends, Beatles tunes, old 60’s tunes, folkie things, and jazz
standards from the Real Book with me. We kept getting better right up
to the end!
few days before he left this Earth I went to visit him at home and I
took my guitar. I played him a tune I was working on, “Here’s That
Rainy Day,” and I accompanied as Mike sang “Moon River.” That was the
last we saw him.
always liked and appreciated Tom, but now that he’s gone I realize I
probably didn’t appreciate him enough. Playing together directed my
style and repertoire, he allowed me to do things I couldn’t do with
anyone else. Now that he’s gone, I need to redirect my music, and I
really miss him.
am honored that I could call Tom my friend while he was alive and I
miss him now that he’s gone.