Tom's Favorites

I have been asked many times what kind of music I listen to, who I listen to, and/or, what I like. The truth is I listen to, and enjoy, just about anything. Yes I have favorites and some stuff I can only listen to for a little while at a time, but I do, of course have some favorites. Some are super favorites for reasons I will keep to myself. I don't use the word 'hero' easily because I know what a hero looks like, having worked with a few and I think that word is bandied about too easily. No offense intended to anyone one here. the list below is in alphabetical order by last name for individuals and 'first name' for groups. Individuals may show up in a group also, but I list them both ways in some cases, just in case you are looking for someone and don't know which group they play with. Everybody on this list is somebody I would recommend a friend go see. There is NO rating system here (you should make up your own mind). However I will use a series of 'splats' (*) to denote how well I know the person or group.  On splat (*) means I have seen them perform live. Two splats (**) means I have met them (Like a handshake and a short chat. Three splats (***) indicates that I have seen and spoken with them often enough to consider them an acquaintance. Just so that I don't offend anyone and in the interest of full disclaimer, four splats (****) means that I consider them a friend (or worse, they consider me a friend), somebody I might be able to ask a favor of. Five splats means they have the task of being related to me in some unfortunate manner. So here is my list, your mileage may vary of course. (This too is a work in progress, I don't want to leave anybody out and will keep adding as my memory improves.)

Darol Anger
 Mike Block
Garth Brooks
Larry Campbell *
Ryan Cavanaugh ****
The Chestnut Hill Gang ****
Joe Craven
Michael Daves ***
Jerry Douglas *
Casey Driessen **
Deadly Gentlemen
Rushad Eggleston ****
Bela Fleck ***
Fooch ****
Jenni Lyn Gardner *
Richard Greene
Edvard Grieg
David Grisman **
Della Mae **
Donna the Buffalo *
The Gibson Brothers *
Amy Helm *
Levon Helm **
Brian Hollander ****
Marc Horowitz ****
Jay & Molly ***
Bill Keith ****
Jim Kweskin **
Kimber Ludiker **
Gilles Malkine ***
Molly Mason ***
Del McCoury **
Mike Merenda ***
Ruth Merenda ****
Maria Muldaur **
Rosie Newton **
Mike & Ruthy ****
Howard Levy **
Willy Nelson *
Tom O'Brien *
Tom Pocheco **
Noam Pikelny **
Tony Rice
Jim Rooney *
Saturday Night Bluegrass Band ****
 Earl Scruggs
John Sebastian  **
Pete Seeger **
Evan Shultis *****
Richie Stearns **1/2
Chris Thiele **
Ron Thomassen **
Happy Traum **
Tony Trischka ***
Two Dollar Goat ***
Jay Unger ***
The Wiyos **
Eric Weisberg ***
Bob Wills
Victor Wooten **
Well , that's a start anyway.


  1. Pretty good list, Tom. Glad you included Eric Weisberg who did some of his best banjo work with the Tarriers in the 60s. Now I've dated myself. As additions to the list I'd suggest John Stewart, The Hackensaw Boys, Gordon Bok... Well, the list could go on forever but it's time to dust off the banjo and practice.

  2. Thanks Kirby, Eric was/is a lock on my list. We are friends and I always enjoy any knowledge or stories he has to share, and he has plenty. Yes, He did some fantastic work with the Tarriers and a couple of months ago he was saying how he had just seen an old Tarriers video on you tube and was amazed at the speed he was playing. Eric is an amazing guy.
    As for the other guys you mentioned, I don't really know them and have never seen them perform. I mostly have folks on my list who I have seen or followed in some manner. Perhaps some day I will learn more about the folks on your list. Thanks for leaving a comment here. Please come back from time to time.

  3. Hey Tom. Real quick, I saw the Hackensaw boys about a year ago at the National in Richmond. Terrific traditional bluegrass group. John Stewart sadly left us a few years ago but he wrote and performed everything from 60s folk to rock and roll. And he played great guitar and banjo. Gordon Bok is mostly traditional music and from New England. I should also have added John Hartford who did great fiddle and banjo work. Unfortunately also now departed.
    Its cool that you know Eric. Next time tell him that when I think of banjo I think of his playing on "Red Apple Juice."