{New Braunfels} Spotlight: Tom Gillam

Tom Gillam was born in Deptford, New Jersey, and was primarily raised in Camden, New Jersey. As the son of a nuclear power plant cooling system design engineer and a stay-at-home mom and member of a 5 child household with 4 boys and 1 girl, Tom says he had a great childhood. Tom’s paternal grandfather and great uncle were musicians in the 1920’s in Schmoken, Pennsylvania, and his brother Michael has played drums with John Waite since 2010 as well as having credits as drummer for John Waite’s latest album, 2 of Tom’s albums and several other records over the years.

Tom picked up the guitar and played it through high school, but dropped it shortly after in lieu of taking vocal duties. Jumping into songwriting was a natural progression at the age of 22, and he also learned and added slide guitar to his arsenal. Tom’s primary musical ingestion was by no surprise the “So-Cal” country rock sounds of late 60’s and early 70’s bands such as Poco, The Flying Burrito Brothers, New Riders of the Purple Sage, The Byrds and others which finally manifested into bands like The Eagles. These and many others helped shape Tom’s musical tastes and stylings, but Tom has continued to branch out and enjoy MANY genres of music over the years. This diversity wasn’t limited to his musical enjoyment however, Tom even fronted a punk/new wave band in Philadelphia for awhile, and has played many different styles of music over the years in many bands including several of his own. Aside from being a professional musician his entire life, Tom has taken the occasional odd job working at a music or record store to help pay the bills, and lucky for us he has also gotten into the world of broadcast radio.

My first exposure to Tom was hearing a few of his southern/country rock songs on KNBT in New Braunfels. Tom also started hosting the Cosmic Power-Hour on February 21, 2010, and has filled KNBT’s airwaves with early country rock and Americana tunes most Sunday nights ever since. Tom’s show has become popular enough that the Cosmic Power-Hour was extended to a second hour, and Tom also began filling in during the morning shift from time to time when Wayne Fanning left New Braunfels Communications last summer after 21 years in Texas, most spent on the air in New Braunfels. Soon after, it was announced that Tom would co-host the morning show with Misty Malone on Tuesdays and Wednesdays with Tom going solo in the 9 o’clock hour.

Tom has also been involved in a couple of the Valmark Chevrolet’s Greatest Hits Live series concerts at the Brauntex Theater. Tom’s band performed a Creedence Clearwater Revival tribute show in November 2012, and Tom made a rare “vocals only” appearance as part of the local band Phantom 46 in February 2013 to perform a Bad Company tribute. Tom has also made numerous appearances at Gruene Hall leading song swaps, playing acoustic and full band shows, and has also played at about every other local venue you can name. Tom also does extensive traveling across the pond. He’s made overseas runs as Tom Gillam Band, as part of US Rails, The Drakes and many others. Tom has built quite a large network of friends and fans on both sides of the water, and with his growing catalog of records, this fanbase will definitely continue to expand.

Tom started up a new project Tom Gillam’s Kosmic Messengers that at times plays as an all acoustic ensemble, but they typically turn it up and go full electric which they did for the very first time at the 2nd Annual Blowin’ Off Steamboat Music Festival back in January. We definitely got more than we bargained for, Tom and the band were beyond amazing. This “new” band is made up entirely of musicians Tom has worked with in the past, Tom of course on lead guitar and vocals, David Spencer on co-lead guitar (I love twin leads, when done correctly it will blow your socks off) Dan McCann on bass, Ian Bailey on drums and rich vocals in all directions. They kicked off this new concept back on Sunday December 29 at Gruene Hall. Knowing that this particular set was all acoustic I wasn’t really sure what to expect, but with the talent packed into this band I should never have been surprised they exceeded every expectation I had. Add the extra layer of twin electric guitars and they are almost impossible to beat. Tom referred to the Kosmic Messengers as “The most comfortable band I’ve had in years”. I would suspect this has something to do with talent and tenacity.

Tom’s Kosmic Messengers will play two Gruene Hall dates in March, on Friday March 7th they will play at LaCenterra at Cinco Ranch in Katy, TX and they will also kick off the 2014 monthly live music series at a new venue “The Farmhouse” (txfarmhouse.com) which is located near 1863 and 281 in Bulverde on Saturday March 15 with Poor J Brown opening the show at 7pm. Tom will then go on the road with U.S. Rails during the month of April in Spain, Italy and France, then follow that up with a European tour with he and David Spencer in May.

Tom Gillam Discography:
2000: First of All
2001: Dallas
2004: Shake My Hand
2006: Never Look Back
2009: Play Loud Dig Deep (Tom Gillam & Tractor Pull)
2009: Had Enough?
2010: Better Than The Rest (European compilation of his first 3 records)
2011: Rustic Beauty
2013: Good For You

Tom Gillam “Dallas” on The Drop

If you haven’t already, be sure to check out Tom’s great music, most of it is available on iTunes, can be purchased through his website or at a show. Also, be on the lookout for info regarding new music, as soon as I hear anything about a Kosmic Messengers record in the works, I’ll be sure to let you know!

Brian Strickland

Brian has turned a lifelong love of listening to and making music into a passion for promoting live music. You can find his blog at http://www.musicofnb.com or on Twitter @musicofnb

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