Bluesman Tom Larsen Stronger as I Go Longer

(Review by David J. Pollay Bestselling author of The Law of the Garbage Truck)

Bluesman Tom Larsen has created a musical masterpiece with his newly released album, Stronger as I Go Longer. The way Tom combines the earthly grit and guts of the Blues with the gratitude and grace of Gospel music is awesome.

In order to help bring his masterpiece to life, Bluesman Tom pairs himself with some of the most inspired and talented Gospel singers today.

In one of my favorite songs on the album, “Thru It,” Tom nimbly weaves in and out of the chorus, joining in at just the right moment to emphasize a word or phrase and then suddenly connecting to the chorus again, singing in unison with Committed to Serve and popping out once more to sing the essential narrative of the song – that we will make it through the tough times. We are not alone – He’ll take you through it.

Tom’s voice has the feel of a Blues and Gospel wise man – a man as deep as he is strong. Tom has range, too – able to take some of the higher notes with his guest artists.

Bluesman Tom is a mountain of a man who sings with so much warmth and depth that it feels as though his voice carries every triumph and every heartache of all the people he has ever met.

Bluesman Tom did a superb job of composing the all-original songs he sings on Stronger as I Go Longer. The lyrics are uplifting, the music is elevating, and Tom’s guitar playing is captivating.

If this is the new direction Bluesman Tom is taking the Blues, count me in. To quote a line from “Praise Him.” Tom sings, “I don’t preach, but I surely will testify.”

And testify he does in every song, leaving us more hopeful, joyful, and grateful.

   Over my long and varied career as a traveling music performer my band was known to many people and assigned many labels.

   Of course, we were Blues, but also very different, with our funk, jazz and rock influences, rhythm section solos and showmanship, etc.   Folks couldn’t exactly peg us, but they tried, LOL.

   At the shore resorts, Ocean City, Md., Rehoboth and Lewes, De., Virginia Beach, Va., and Cape May, Nj., we were that Beach Band.

   At the Univ. of Delaware, Washington College, Univ. of Va., and many other campuses we were that Frat Band. 

 And in several Mid-Atlantic states, Md. and Pa. in particular, we were that Biker Gang Band.The next two stories will focus on that chapter of our lives.

   The York, Pa. area has a Harley (Davidson) plant, and has always been a region with a lot of bikers.
   Somebody must’ve seen us at the beach and steered me into getting some gigs up there.

   I got us booked at a Sheraton-type place and we did ok, but somehow I got the name of a place called Finley’s Tavern, in Seven Valleys.
   A biker told me about the place and said they would love us, BUT….. the place was kinda rough.
   I just chuckled; wait ’til they see MY ass!

   Well, I got up with them, they had heard our name and I got us a gig.

   We rolled up and started loading the gear in. Lots and LOTS of motorcycles outside. As we walked in we went past the bar with our gear so as to get set up on the little stage area.

   The place went very silent, and you could just feel the tension mounting. Oops, I guess they hadn’t heard we were, uh, racially diverse?

   I had one of the best rhythm sections I ever had with me, Big John Postley and Killer Keith Brooks. Both are African American, and we could feel that this place didn’t normally have Black folk.

   My guys walked down past the bar and nervously noticed that almost every single guy in there had an obvious pistol.   Sheesh, what did Tom get us into THIS TIME??!!??

   I scoped out the situation and did what I always do, just act like you know what you’re doing and kick as much ass as you possibly can.

   Finally, facing a noticeably skeptical crowd, it was show time!

   In typical cocky fashion, I decided to make a statement about just who the fuk they were dealing with here.

   The first song up was: “I’m a Bad Motherfu#ker”, where I talk about cops giving us a wide berth, the Lord not wanting us, and the devil being afraid of us.   It also has a bass guitar solo spot where Postley showed them some shit they had never dreamed of from a bass guitar!   Brooks was being his normal, brutal self back there on the drums, and the effect was jaw dropping to our bewildered audience.

   Next song on tap was “Lookin’ for Trouble,” which is as much about being a bad-ass as Bad MF is. It’s a classic anthem to troublemakers everywhere.    Sketching out quite the position paper, we were.

   And the third tune was one of the rowdiest partying songs I ever wrote, called “Goin’ Out Drinkin.” This one involves partying SO hard that a riot starts!! 

   Well, after that musical assault the ice was broken. Every mean, bad MF in the place came up, shook our hands, hugged us and gushed about us. 

   That group of outlaws recognized us as fellow rebel misfits and embraced us as family. 
   I got some great compliments, like “I hate Blues, but you guys are great!” And, “Introduce me to your band, they are cool!”

   That last one is kinda watered down; they didn’t have Black customers, Black friends and usually didn’t want any. 

   By just going about our bidness and doing what we do, minds were opened and attitudes changed. They opened up their homes and gave us places to crash and looked out for us.
   We had found a home, and friends for life.  

How’s that for the first day of Black History month?

   There it is.    Feb. 1, 2021

(From Bluesman’s 1st Book “The Elusive One”)

     Back in the time before I formed the band-late 70’s- there was no blues scene on the Eastern Shore (Del/Md./Va.). No blues clubs, no blues bands, rarely a stray concert and certainly no blues festivals. If I wanted to hear any live blues I had to go to DC.

     Blues fans were like an underground club, and there were only a few of us in our neck of the woods. One of my oddball friends had a subscription to The Aquarian Weekly and he’d keep us posted on who was coming through DC. We’d carpool over to see Son Seals at the Childe Harold, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells at the Bayou and we got to see Muddy Waters somewhere over there (Desperado’s?).

    I’d returned from adventures out west and decided to really put in some serious woodshedding time and teach myself how to play blues.  No how-to books, no videos, no dvd’s. I’d spend hours and hours listening to records with guitar in hand (and harp in mouth) trying to figure out what the musicians were doing and how.

     To have the chance to see a real, live blues band up close and jamming was a great learning opportunity for me. I always learned something from these shows, some things that I later used myself in my own band

      One thing I liked was how well the blues guys always dressed. They would wear really nice suits, really sharp, like they were ready to go to church. They’d start out the show, do a few numbers, then the jacket came off, then the sleeves got rolled up and they would COOK!

     For those of you who were around when I first started out you’ll remember I was out there in the rock and roll clubs wearing  a three-piece suit. That’s where that came from. I had my own twist to it: I never wore a tie, and since I’d been living out west I sported cowboy boots.

    I used to cruise around all over looking in the budget bins in various stores, looking for “cut-outs” (albums that didn’t sell and were discounted), adding to my blues collection. I had built a good one, and Muddy Waters albums were the most plentiful, save for maybe BB King.

      When we heard that Muddy Waters was coming to DC we made our plans, drove over, got good seats and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The band had Jerry Portnoy on harp, Bob Margolin on guitar, and Pinetop Perkins on piano. What a line-up! I don’t care if you play blues, rock, jazz, or whatever, everybody could learn something from that band. It was classic Chicago Blues, played by the master who forged the original style.

       After a great first set there was an intermission. I headed off to the bathroom, but then I took a wrong turn on purpose to see how far I could get before somebody stopped me.        Somehow I ran into no one- no staff, no bouncers, no band; I’d get to a door, knock gently and go on into the next room. Just when I thought I was getting lost in the Georgetown catacombs, I opened a door and there was MUDDY WATERS!!!

       Whoa! I tried to make a hasty apology and leave but he would have none of it- he had a big grin and waved and called me over like I was a long-lost cousin. There was no one else with him and he seemed glad to have the company.

      We sat and talked and laughed and had a big old time. And of course Country Bigfoot TL was not going to let an opportunity like this go by- I asked him about his guitar tuning, what it was like to play with Little Walter, did he ever see Robert Johnson and on and on. We must’ve been together a half an hour, or close to it. What a treat.

      What struck me the most was how down-home and regular-folks he was with me. He didn’t know me from Adam, but he treated me with respect and that impressed me.

      I’d tried to talk to other musicians and had on occasion been given the brush-off, like I was not worth the time to talk to. To treat your fans like they’re peons, like you’re cool and they’re not, etc. is pretty “common” in my book (it’s in the White Trash Dictionary-look it up).

      Muddy Waters was a class act and I made up my mind that if I ever got a band going I was going to try to follow his example. I have done my best to live up to that standard over the years.

       To play music is a gift from God. To be able to do it for a living is an absolute blessing. I am always mindful that without the people who take time from their busy lives and spend their hard-earned money to come see us play, I can’t do what I do.           

       There it is.          -TL

    Hey there peoples, time to get back active with my Warrior Fitness writing. I have been working out and making major accomplishments in the last few years, just been too busy to write about it!
  A few basics, to get back on track. It is called Warrior Fitness because I am the Warrior Poet. (see my second book, of the same title).  I feel that a great-souled-person should be spiritually​ active, mentally active, and physically active. All three areas should be challenged and developed.  My Warrior Fitness writings deal with the physical side, sometimes with spiritual overtones.
   I train because I want to be ready; ready for anything that comes up.   Every year, at least two or three times, usually unexpectedly, something extremely physically challenging will confront me.  I deal with it and go, “Wow, this is where guys my age have heart attacks, sheesh, glad I was in shape.”  That alone is very motivational.
   Also, my ego just won’t allow me to be that fat, ex-jock. Vanity, thy name is Bluesman, LOL!!!
   I also started Warrior Fitness to answer questions from my fans about what I do to get in shape. I am humbled that they would ask, and I want to help.
   I will say up front that I am not genetically gifted, I wasn’t born with strength and muscles. I had to work for it, for many years.
   With that said, my message is, if I can do it, so can anybody. Literally.
  Case in point:       I was the live in caregiver for my 90 plus year old Mom. I encouraged her to(MADE her, lol) walk every day. It kept her mobile and moving. As a matter of fact, she was walking when she passed away. Active to the end!
  But, here’s the real point:      I got her some 2 lb. dumbbells and had her do arm curls. After just a few weeks, she had some guns! No sh*t, her arm muscles got bigger and stronger!!  Anyone, at any age, can build muscle, build stamina, get more flexibility, gain weight, lose weight, and/or make cardio improvement.
   I will cut to the chase. There are three keys to achieving your fitness goals. Just three.   Those three are the Workout, the Diet, and getting sufficient Rest.   No matter what your fitness goals are, if you​ work those three areas correctly, you WILL succeed.
   First up, the Workout. Decide what you want to accomplish and put together exercises that will help you get there. The key is to get started, wherever you are, and work for regular, incremental progress.   My advice is to find something you enjoy doing. Anything. Just keep showing up and doing it regularly. Start out walking, plain old getting your stroll on. Try to go an extra 50 feet each day, until you’re doing a 1/2 mile. Then  a mile, then a faster pace, then try short jogs, etc.
   For strength, get some dumbbells. If you can do two sets of five, next time try two sets of six, etc. Start wherever you are, then gradually add to it. You WILL progress and get stronger. If my Mom could do it, so can you.
   Next up, Diet. You are building a better you, time to Feed the Machine. Start by cutting down on sweets and sodas, anything with sugar. Yuck. More protein for more strength, fewer carbs and some fat is ok.   When I was working to put on muscle weight I tried drinking protein shakes between meals and it worked like a charm. Now that I’m older and want to keep the fat off, I do more raw veggies, more running and moderate protein. But yo, gotta have my protein, I’m a Meat-a-tarian!
   And the third part of the Big Three:  Rest!    This is the area that always seems the easiest to underestimate. Yeah, yeah, get enough rest/sleep, good for you, blah-blah. But it is probably THE most essential of the Big Three.
   When you push yourself working out, your body needs time to rebuild itself. When the seemingly endless stress keeps coming at you all day, you need to shut it down, go away for a while and conk out.
   When I was on my above-mentioned quest to gain muscle, the protein shakes helped, for a while, then I hit a plateau. I tried taking an afternoon nap, and BANG, I added 20 pounds of meat to my bod.   Don’t skimp on the rest!!
   I have a lot more to say about all of this. Feel free to email me and I would be glad to point you in the right direction.   Whatever your current shape and health, it can be improved. Like I had my Mom repeat back to me when preparing for our daily walk:   “I can, and I WILL !”
   There it is.