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drtomm's picture


My life in music began back in the late 50's...I'm an old geezer, when I bought a Harmony acoustic guitar from my dormmate for $15.00. After learning 3 chords and a few folk tunes, I was a folksinger and musician. My ego was deflated when I heard one of folk music's legendary finger picker, Perry Lederman, playing his 3 finger style picking in the dorm. It was like entering another world...he was truly incredibly talented, coming from NYC and learning from some folk legends, including Rev. Gary Davis and others, including Elizabeth Cotton. I chased after him with a passion, including following him to NYC for a summer, trying to catch a few licks...he was not generous in his offerings, but I did manage to learn some of his style and after many hours of practice could pick out "freight train" on my new Martin 0018 I bought new for $120.00 at the music store. I still have this wonderful instrument for which the value has increased to over #3000.00, but there is no price for which I would sell it.
In 1960 or 1961 I heard BOb Dylan present a concert at the Student Union building for the cost of 50 cents with @ 30 to 40 people there and totally bought into his 'new' approach to folk music. I had the opportunity to sit with him and play a few tunes at the folk music session which followed...he was just a kid at the time...16 or 17, and on his way to NYC to make his entrance into the world of folk music.
I was seriously distracted from music for several years during the early 60's as I entered medical school, but following graduation in 1964 from Wayne State University in Detroit, I came out west and interned at Portland Emmanual Hospital. During internship, I check out the bulletin board for practice opportunities, and saw an bulletin for a doctor wanted to practice in Weiser, Idaho. I was intrigued since they mentioned that it was the site of the National Old Time FIddle Festival. I couldn't pass up this opportunity to check it out, and flew over in my newly acquired plane for a red carpet tour of Weiser. I was invited to the fiddle festival, and my destiny was cast in stone. I moved over to Weiser and started my first practice there. I joined the fiddle festival committee and was appointed program chairman, which put me in charge of arranging the program material for the contest performances. I had the pleasure of rambling around the campgrounds listening for talent and arranging for their performance. I heard Sam Bush play his mandolin when he was 11 years old, and immediately arranged for his opening the second half of the show. Other great musicians were scheduled for performances including Byron Berline and his BUnchgrass Boys. His jam group had no name at the time so I gave them the moniker. Other musicians who were show stopper include Bob Lederle, a legendary banjo player, the Bears Family, who I arranged to fly in from the East Coast, and of course Phil and VIvian Williams and their BLuegrass group.
After 3 years at Weiser, I moved to Tacoma and worked in the emergency department. I took up the fiddle in the 70's and managed to make the break after 5 years of practice. I saw Mark O'connor come into the picture when he was 11 years old, and followed his meteoric rise to fame. I managed to be sound technician at a couple of his Tacoma concerts when he was 17 y.o. and recorded them on my Tandberg tape deck. I have the only original recordings of these concerts in existence, which include a concert with Daryl Anger and Mike Marshall who accompanied Mark in his Tacoma concerts. This was truly an awesome experience. I returned to Weiser in the late 70's for the festival and hung with Phil and Vivian Williams, and Benny Thomason, and have some original taped recordings of them at various performances.
After breaking my neck in an auto accident, playing the fiddle was not an option, so I took up the mandolin and later the piano. I consider myself quite profient on either of these instruments, but as age keeps creeping up on me, my licks are getting slower each year...But I still have the music in my head, and I love to jam...I've played with some of the best, and hope to continue in this vein.

Posted by drtomm: Posted 23 Mar 2007


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