The setting: a family get-together. Young Tom is watching his cousin, Paul Musso, pulling off an impressive Jose Feliciano impression (sunglasses and all) and playing the guitar. That was all it took. As a youngster, Tom had already decided he wanted to become an entertainer, and now with the realization that playing guitar might be his ticket to fame and fortune, the die was set. That he didn’t know how to play the instrument served as no deterrent. He persuaded his cousin to teach him to play guitar (a buck a lesson on Friday nights after school).
Tom spent his teen years learning guitar, joining bands (many of which never made it past the rehearsal stage), four of which reached semi-solid status–two rock bands and two jazz/rock ensembles. For a job, he worked alongside his father in the family’s wholesale drapery fabric shop, although he couldn’t get his dreams of entertaining people with music out of his head. “I could never see myself having a regular 9 to 5 type of job. There was nothing that interested me enough to want to make a living doing it as much as music did. Early on…I didn’t know how to go about making a living as a musician, so I just spent time learning my instrument and hoped I would figure that part out later.”
A huge turning point occurred when he began studying guitar and composition with Steve Mesplé, a core member of the ground-breaking ’80s and ’90s ensemble, Wind Machine. For eight years he studied with Mesplé, learning about alternate tunings and developing his own. “I had dabbled a bit with fingerstyle guitar before, but Steve really taught me the proper technique…I found I could write songs easily using different tunings. They sparked my creative side.”
In November of 2013 Tom released his first solo CD, “Perfect Imperfection”, which rose to number 2 on the Zone Music Reporter (formerly New Age Reporter) charts. Nominated for two awards including Best New Artist, Tom walked away with the award for Best Instrumental Album-Acoustic at the ZMR Awards in May, 2014. For more info on Tom and his CD, please visit tomcarleno.com.