Thomas "Tomcat" Colvin is an American expat who has been joyfully living in the Philippines since 1986. He was, along with Filipino singer Binky Lampano, responsible for a blues renaissance in the Philippines in 1993, with the creation of the Newly Industrialized Combo, which specialized in "industrial-strength" blues. Later in the decade, he and Binky formed LAMPANO ALLEY, which became one of the most prominent blues bands in southeast Asia. Its 2001 qlbum SONGS FROM THE ALLEY is still recognized as the best blues album in Philippine music history. With lead singer Lampano now based in Los Angeles, the band mounts occasional reunion tours. The band has many performances available on YouTube. A Google search will uncover a lot of "hits."
Tom also formed a project band TOMCAT & THE DAWGS to record several of his original songs. While firmly rooted in the blues traditon, these songs are unlike anything else you've heard in the blues. Tomcat has uploaded these originals to this site -- and would love to hear feedback.
The song "Land of the Free" features an unusual double-tracking solo. The recording engineer realized that the two solo takes followed the same conceptual outline, though played with different notes. He played them back together as an experiment -- and the double-tracking solo became a notable feature of the mix. In this regarrd, this recording may indeed be truly unique.
"Blue Oasis" is, according to Tomcat, "Bo Diddley on safari." It's played in traditional second position -- but with a deep bend that gives the song a very different feel.
"The Day The Blues Began" is a rather naughty song, offering Tomcat's take on life in the Philippines. To understand the concept, you must understand that Filipino boys normally are circumsized at age 12, usually in groups during the summer out-of-school months by the local barber. It's an important coming-of-age tradition -- and, yes, that's the day the blues begins!
Tomcat is currently working on a revolutionary concept for teaching harmonica. Hopefully, he'll have something important to announce about that project right here. Stay tuned.
While I'm best known for my blues harmonica, I started musical life as a rebellious pianist in the mid-50's, insisting on learning how to improvise. Subsequently,I became a very active jazz drummer on the East coast. In 1960, I put together a jazz band in Charlotte, NC, with two blacks and two whites, so unuual at the time that an Los Angeles record producer invited the band to the West coast. While the other three accepted the invitation, I stayed behind.
Within a couple of years, I moved to New England, where I mostly participated in Jam sessions, even backing Chick Corea once in New Haven, well before anyone had heard of him. During these years, I studiend piano jazz improvisation with John Mehegan and big band arranging with Neil Slater. So my foundation interest is JAZZ.
In 1969, I first heard Paul Butterfield's big band. Its jazz-like style immeidately won me over. I drove immeidately to a record store and bought the Butterfield Live album -- and a couple of harmonicas. Within weeks, I sold my drum set. With no teacher and a pair of ears tuned into jazz, I came up with my own rather quirky style of playing. Quite honestly, I learned to play INCORRECTLY, but that has forged an unusal approach to the instrument. To this day, my style of playing is quite different. Maybe someday I'll reveal "the secret." Anyway, at this point, my interests turned to HARMONICA blues, with a jazz inflection.
Nowadays, I'm hearing other sounds, more acoustic, more in tune with world music. I have no idea where this will lead.