Posts Tagged ‘Mr. Tommy’

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Just last we told you about the amazing set that Eddie Money performed at the Thunder Valley Resort for their summer concert series. You can read that earlier post here: Thunder Valley Resort. When we were there, we had the opportunity to talk with guitarist/multi instrumentalist, Tommy Girvin. Last year, we told you about the great work Tommy was doing in keeping music education alive with children. You can read more from that post here: Tommy Girvin Interview.

Prior to the Eddie Money set in the 100 + deg temps at Thunder Valley, we were able to chat more with Tommy Girvin and get an update from him about his children’s music program.  It was exciting to hear about Mr. Tommy’s Mobile Music Bus and all the fun things he is working on. We are pleased to bring you that interview here:

 

It is wonderful to see how Tommy is inspiring young children to fall in love with music and I am sure we will be seeing many of his students one day on the big stage. We can’t wait  to see what else Tommy has in store for us. Make sure to check out his pages on Facebook and visit the tour pages on EddieMoney.com to check when he might be coming to your town to play! Also you can listen to all of his music through his tommygirvinmusic.com   website.

~ Enjoy, Marisol

Tommy Bus

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Photo Credits: Rebecca Meyers  via Facebook

Photo Credits: Rebecca Meyers via Facebook

Today we bring you an interview with a very talented and busy musician, Tommy Girvin. You might know Tommy from his 25+ year history as lead guitarist for Eddie Money. Tommy has been know for his blazing guitar work for Eddie. Many don’t know about Mr. Tommy who shares his love for music with children, his work in Signature Solos or his solo music career as well.  We are pleased to bring you our in depth interview with Tommy Girvin:

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Music Junkie Press: Thank you Tommy for taking the time to talk with us here at Music Junkie Press! You have been quite a busy guy playing and touring with Eddie Money for the past (25+? Correct) years. In addition, you seemed to have find the time with a new app Signature Solos which we will talk about later as well as your latest launch of the Mr. Tommy’s Mobile Music Bus. Wow!, we have so much to talk about here but let’s first get to know more about you Tommy.

How old were you when you first started playing guitar?

Tommy Girvin: I was about 7 years old when I learned the baritone ukulele, then to the guitar. It seems that I have always been a pretty hard worker.  I buttoned down and was playing pretty quick I think.

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Music Junkie Press: So even at a young age, your determination shined through! Do you remember the first song you learned how to play in its entirety?

Tommy Girvin: Lemon tree. I learned the chords from a beginner book, then went and woke up my parents one early morning and played it for them.

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Music Junkie Press: I love you waking your parents up. That is great! I know that you mentioned, you came from a pretty musical family growing up, do you remember what was the first concert you ever went to?

Tommy Girvin: Yes, my grandfather on my mother’s side was a piano player for a living, so they were always singing. My mom was singer in Detroit opening for the Supremes and playing clubs. My brother and sister and I naturally sang 3 part harmony so we sang a lot as well. We had a “band” and were out working at around 9 or 10 yrs old. We played pizza parlors, talent shows (that paid the winner), store openings, and carnivals in a traveling show. We actually burned ourselves out after a couple years.. But for some reason, I kept going. Practiced a whole lot. I remember my dad knocked on the door to my room while I was doing my normal marathon practice and he said “hey, come check out this new band on the Merv Griffin show. It was Eddie Money. Then I started studying the great Jimmy Lyon’s guitar playing. The first real concert I went to that meant anything was 3 Dog Night at the Anaheim Convention Center, long before I was serious about guitar. My babysitter took me. It was pretty loud and couldn’t hear correctly for a few days. They were very big at the time and it was great. Funny, I ended up working with their producer later on. Small world with intertwined connecting roads.. right?

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Music Junkie Press: So definitely music is in your blood and it is nice to see your family so involved as well. Let’s go way back in time…. Smile….  Many people don’t know about Smile and how you guys were one of the holy trinity of bands on the Sunset Strip band. The other two being A la Carte and  Van Halen. How was that scene back then on the Strip?

Tommy Girvin: During that period there was a very healthy music scene starting with the backyard parties where you started and if you were good enough got a following. Then you would start charging to get into the parties. Then you could move into the local concert halls where local promoters would do shows with 2 or 3 bands. Smile’s area was the Temple City, Arcadia, Pasadena area at first. To take a step back, I remember sneaking  in to a backyard party before we formed Smile early in high school. There was this apparently popular little band playing called Van Halen.  They were always “the” band. We formed Smile  and cut our teeth in the local scene by rehearsing billions of hours, then playing shows at school dances, parties, and then bars. We would have to leave the bars during our breaks in between  our  5 sets a night on school nights because we were way too young to be in there. We were Sophomore’s in high school . We got popular on all of these fronts, had a good draw, then got offered a spot on a show with Van Halen at the Pasadena civic auditorium. We had about as many people there as Van Halen so for a short while after that there was a foolish little buzz in the area as to who was “better”  Smile or VH. Smile had always been about sounding great AND putting on a “show”. Our front man Scott Waller was a great showman and one that was apparent was that Dave Roth’s performances became much more active after seeing our guy climb all over the lighting rig and moving  like a rock star. Good stuff. Anyway,  Smile moved into the Hollywood scene in the 80s and quickly became one of the biggest draws at the Starwood, which was one of the big clubs on the scene along with the Whisky and the Troubador. We would play 5 shows there once a month… one show on Thursday, Two shows on Friday, and two shows on Saturday. These were paid admission shows and they cleared the house in between shows on the Fri and Sat  shows. We were pretty popular there for a while and made some really good money. We’d do like 5-6k for the weekend which was a lot of money back then.

And yes, In Orange County the big band was A La Carte. We did lots of shows with them as well, all over So. Cal.

Hollywood was a very healthy breeding ground in the 80s for bands and people who became very famous. Blondie, Motley Crue, Poison, Quiet Riot, and many others were players on the scene at this point and went on to do very well. Good stuff.

Music Junkie Press: That is some great Sunset Strip history right there! Do you have any of the Smile Records?  Do you ever talk with the guys from the band?

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Tommy Girvin: Ha, I think I may have a Smile record somewhere. I still get people all over the country that have Smile records and want me sign them when I’m out doing EM shows. No I’m not in touch with the guys from the band at this point. It’s not because there is any bad blood or anything, just focusing on other things I guess. I believe everyone is alive and doing well however.

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Music Junkie Press:  We are still looking for one. Every time I am in a record store, I always hope that I will find the Smile album. We will keep looking. Touring with Eddie Money has taken you all over the world. Where was one of your most favorite places you visited?

Tommy Girvin: I tell ya that everyplace in the world including every state in this country has awesome things and crappy things. Whether they be good or bad people, beautiful landscapes or places or not so beautiful…  South America, Japan, Canada, Alaska, all have these things but there are places in the U.S. that rival anywhere on earth. The U.S. is a pretty diverse place as far as people and landscape. We’re all pretty lucky actually.

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Music Junkie Press: How about touring… What has been the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on tour?

Tommy Girvin: Craziest? Anyone who has been doing this for a long time will tell you that most of the “crazy” things that happen are self induced. Except for things like the girl stories where they do out of the ordinary things to meet you, thinking that you are some super rich rock star.. I’ve also witnessed tornados coming to the stage and wiping all the gear off of it, radical car crashes in the Canadian Rockies during winter, flame-outs on airplane engines, etc.. you know, the usual stuff.

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Music Junkie Press: I am sure you have quite a lot of stories! We also have enjoyed your own music from Ransom, Burning Candles and also your Bulldozer Sessions, and your Christmas CD. Are you planning on having any follow up releases for those?

Tommy Girvin: Yes, the Ransom project was a very cool project I did with Don Cromwell who played bass for E.M. for many years.  The second Ransom CD came out a couple of years ago, titled “Better Days” Good stuff, popular in Europe mostly.

Burning Candles was a wonderful project for me as it was like nothing else. 3 piece power acoustic. We rocked. That CD is still a favorite of many people. Very proud of that one.

The Bulldozer Sessions is a CD that I believe Burning Candles would have evolved into. I’ve always written songs so I needed to release these somehow. Great stuff on that one as well if I don’t say so myself.

The Christmas CD comes under the “Mr. Tommy Presents” category.  I was asked to do some Christmas songs for TV and the result was so pleasing that I had to keep the songs and do a Christmas CD myself. My kids Talia and Tommy helped write some of the songs and sang a few as well.  This one plays all year long in family vans!

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Music Junkie Press: If we could peak at your Ipod or Playlist, what artist or song might we be most surprised at finding in there?

Tommy Girvin:  You might be more surprised at what is not there than is there. I’ve always been a fan of songs as opposed to guitar music. You’ll find less hot guitar music and more cool songs for lack of a better term although I’m drawn to guitar songs, whether they be acoustic or heavy.  I don’t really listen to music all that much. I’m always making it, except when I’m driving.  I just took a look in my library and I have the usual classics like Bryan Ferry, David Bowie, Zeppelin, Neil Young, McCartney, Tom Waits, and then Radiohead, Soundgarden but then I love Katy Perry’s CDs, and I thought that Aly and AJ’s CD’s were wonderfully produced and performed as well. I REALLY love the new Fall Out Boy single now.. I guess I like a lot of stuff but don’t get immersed in it like I did as a kid.

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Music Junkie Press: So now that we got to know a little more about you, tell us about this iOS Guitar app that you have been working on Signature Solos. Is this an app to learn guitar or more of an app to perfect your guitar?

Tommy Girvin: Signature Solos is an app for intermediate to advanced guitar players who are ready to move to the next level. I have given guitar lessons and instruction for many years and many of my students have gone on to actually make a living playing guitar. I have developed a teaching formula that works. Simplicity.

I was approached by a student from years ago about an idea for mobile devices. He and his brother are brilliant thinkers and have been making a living for a while developing new technology and applying it to their IOS apps that they produce. We wanted to make a super high quality app that is the real deal instead of all of the bad, miss information that is floating around the internet. We gave it the name “Signature Solos”. Within this $.4.99 app is everything you need to become a more proficient guitar player. We start at the intermediate level and move up.  There will, however be a more introductory version at some point.  I do most of the “Blast Classes” that contain the nuts and bolts of lead guitar; Scales, patterns and triads and how they work. Then there is the “Lab Series” where we play famous solos on high def  and with our new technology you can break it up, zoom in, slow it down (without pitch change) and “see” and hear how it is played on either left or right hand.

We also have the “Artist” and “Spotlight” series where we have guest players come and play their favorite solos from their CDs, and explain how they relate to the blast classes. All the while you can slow this stuff up and clearly see what is going on. Very exciting.

There is so much more in this app. Too much to go into here. Maybe another interview huh?!

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Music Junkie Press:  That is some exciting news! We will share the Signature Solos information with everyone. In addition to all the work on Signature Solos and touring with Eddie, I understand you have an alter ego, Mr. Tommy who not only has three successful Children’s Music  CDs but you have recently launched a Mobile Music Bus for children!  How did Mr. Tommy come into play or did it just start with singing with your own children or how?

Tommy Girvin: I have always played and sang for kids even before I had kids. I worked with Under privileged  kids, Hospitals and United Cerebral Palsy in California when I lived there. Little things mean a lot in this arena.

Then when I had kids I would naturally sing and play for them and each night I would write a little song for (or with) them. This turned into a collection that they would want to hear every night. Then other people heard them and I started to play for schools, then it turned into Mr. Tommy because the kids would call me by that name. After a few years of doing this and doing Mr. Tommy shows locally, I decided to buy a bus, convert it into a music classroom and cater to the pre schools. Parents pay monthly and the kids get 4 fun, educational music “sessions” each month. It is doing very well.

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Music Junkie Press: I understand you would bring Mr. Tommy to play at schools, is that how the Mobile Music Bus progressed or ??

Tommy Girvin: Mr. Tommys Mobile Music Bus is designed to bring music classes to places where there is not a focused music program for kids. Pre Schools mainly, and Homeless Shelters and places for kids with disabilities (hence the wheelchair lift). There are pre schools that are starting kindergarden/first grade programs and MTMMB will be part of the curriculum. Very excited about where that will lead. So really, Mr. Tommy shows and Mr. Tommy’s Mobile Music Bus are two different things.

I have recently hooked up with the Florida Early Learning Coalition, they oversee over 900 pre schools in my area alone, and we are working together on some future projects for kids. One of them being a Mr. Tommy concert titled “Pre School Palooza” This show will happen in August at a local roller rink. Funny that before I hooked up with them I was turned on to their Early Learning Standard booklet and I read it 2 or three times, taking notes, and writing songs based on those concepts. Again, small world with intertwined connecting roads..

Mr. Tommy’s new CD is coming out soon and it incorporates the Early Learning insight as well.

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Music Junkie Press: Wonderful to hear about the success of Mr. Tommy’s Mobile Music Bus. Now you just have to get on Shark Tank and make it a franchise so everyone can enjoy! Tommy, you truly have been busy. I can’t imagine you find the time. How about for you, what are some of your hobbies or what do you like to do on your down time?

Tommy Girvin: I have always been into flyfishing, and running. Traveling so much in the past has made it possible to fly fish and run in some of the most beautiful (and not so) places on earth. I can say that I have fished and run in every state in the U.S. It has kept me at least mildly focused, and my head screwed on straight for sure.

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Music Junkie Press: And how about music, who currently are some of your favorite artists today?

Tommy Girvin: I really like what is going on now with music. I love the new Fall Out Boy single, Lumineers, Elle Goulding, and most of the heavier stuff as well. When I drive is listen to the radio. I don’t have satalite radio in my cool old truck! There seems to be a movement back so some skilled guitar solos in pop music as there has been a definite void here for many years.

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Music Junkie Press:  Lastly, we always ask…. If you could go back to your 14 year old self, what advice would you give to your 14 yr old self?

Tommy Girvin: Be an airline pilot. Fly for Fed Ex. However if I was that, I would have said just the opposite right?!

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Music Junkie Press: Thank you for your time Tommy. We are going to be sharing all your social media links so everyone can stay in touch and updated on what you are working on.  Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?

Tommy Girvin: Well thank you, and I’d say to keep putting one foot in front of the other, keep moving forward, believe in your blind faith, but sometimes you have to recognize the nuts and bolts of what it takes to get along in life.

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Now that you got to know more about Tommy, check out his pages on Facebook and visit the tour pages on EddieMoney.com to check when he might be coming to your town to play! Also you can listen to all of his music through his tommygirvinmusic.com   website.

~ Enjoy, Marisol

Information & Links:

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