Bluesman Tom Larsen has been a dominant force on the East Coast Music scene for over forty years.
Originally a solo performer, Larsen specialized in the acoustic Blues of the 1920’s and 1930’s, covering such artists as Robert Johnson, Blind Willie McTell and Blind Lemon Jefferson. His expanding love of Blues music later moved him to take up the electric guitar and study the stylings of Muddy Waters, Guitar Slim and B.B. King.
Tom became especially noted for his intricate, clean slide guitar playing and for his ability to play harmonica and guitar simultaneously. Besides performing his solo blues act, the late 70’s was a period of intense wood shedding as Bluesman continued to teach himself electric guitar by listening to old Blues records from the 60’s and 70’s.
Bluesman Tom’s first public electric guitar gig was a stint with a black Gospel group in the late 70’s. In his travels to churches around Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, his exposure to Gospel’s impassioned vocals was to inspire his singing forever.
Then one night in June of 1979, Tom decided to spice up his solo act by inviting a couple of his Gospel buddies to back him up on bass guitar and drums for a set of electric Blues. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly enthusiastic, and that night the Tom Larsen Blues Band was born.
In the late 70’s most people had not been exposed to Blues, so from the start the idea was to present the music in an entertaining way that would get the audience to party and above all to make them dance.
Bluesman Tom’s performance style developed during this era when a performer had to reach out and involve the audience in order to win them over and keep their attention. The Bluesman quickly became known for his showmanship, which included walking around the club playing slide guitar with outrageous objects.
As a bandleader, Bluesman realized early on that it was futile to try and get local musicians with no Blues background to sound like the old records he grew up with. BT developed a knack for getting the best available talent and showcasing each musician’s forte during the show.
Eventually, the blending of Tom’s Blues vocals, harp and guitar with the funk bass styles and aggressive drumming in vogue during the 70’s and 80’s evolved into what is now the signature Larsen sound: upbeat, danceable Blues driven by a tight, funky, progressive rhythm section. Although his personnel have changed over the years, this highly original style has remained constant.
Along with this fusion of music styles came experimentation with original songs and by the mid 80’s Bluesman was writing and performing his own material. His repertoire had always included highly original versions of other artist’s songs, so the step to creating his own tunes was a natural one.
Bluesman Tom’s music has been covered by Johnny Winter and recorded by Delbert McClinton, Roy Buchannan, and Tinsley Ellis. His music has been featured in movie soundtracks, commercials, and many of his songs are in the repertoires of regional acts looking to perk up their shows with a Larsen tune.
With thirteen CD’s of his own songs recorded, the Bluesman has the enviable distinction of being able to perform a show on any given night that is all-original.
BT is constantly exploring new beats and styles of Funk and Hip Hop music and adding fresh, new rhythms to the pliable palette of old school Blues.
In the past few years the Bluesman has also returned to his early musical roots and has been writing, recording and performing traditional A.M.E. style Gospel with his colleagues in the Gospel field. The result is his current album STRONGER As I Go LONGER.
Starting in the late 70’s, continuing throughout the 80’s, 90’s, 2000’s and now into an astonishing fifth decade, Bluesman Tom Larsen has carved out an undeniable niche all his own on the cutting edge of modern Rhythm and Blues.
Never content to follow the rules and copy the old styles, Bluesman Tom continues to forge his own distinct trail in the R&B world.