Tom Portrait

Tom grew up on a farm in southwestern Indiana and has been playing bass professionally since 1983. In 1990 he moved to New Orleans to further his musical ambitions. Tom was quickly hired into one of the French Quarter's largest if not most notorious street bands, Augie Jr. and the Big Mess Blues Band. It was during this time that Tom had the good fortune to have met and receive a lesson in slap bass from Willy Dixon himself who is commonly credited with inventing the style.

The band made their debut album and moved to Toulouse, France for what was to be a year of heavy and very successful touring throughout all of France and Belgium. Tom and Augie would often break off to do two piece shows (guitar/ bass) in continuing the Country Blues tradition of legends like Muddy Waters with Ransom Nolin or Willy Dixon.

From France Tom moved to Chicago and became happily imbedded in the Lounge Axe (music venue) family who would introduce him to many future friends and collaborators including Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar (of Uncle Tupelo) Jon Langford (of the Mekons), Brigid Murphy, Frank Oral and Dave Max Crawford (of Poi Dog Pondering), Brian Henneman and countless other musicians and artists of every kind. It was then, in 1991, that Tom met Rick "Cookin'" Sherry in a band that included guitarist Jake Labotz. Tom and Rick would later start what was to become underground Chicago staple Devil in a Woodpile. Tom went on to become, in 1992, the bassist for first, the Frank and Dave shows which would later (perhaps inevitably) morph into the Chicago incarnation of Poi Dog Pondering, He concurrently, in 1993 co-founded the Bottlerockets with Henneman. Tom was also a founding member of The Waco Brothers and later The Pine Valley Cosmonauts with Jon Langford, Steve Goulding, Tracey Deer and Dean Schlabouski.

It was also during this time that he became one of Milly's "Sequins" (the main character's all cousin/ all "girl" back-up band) in Milly's Orchid Show. Through Milly (Brigid Murphy) Tom met the Blue Man Group and soon got the opportunity to audition for the roll of Chapman Stick player in a planned Chicago production. Tom won the audition and From 1997 till December 2008 was the first chair "'Stick" player with the Blue Man Group/ Chicago at the Briar Street Theater. At the Blue Man Group Tom met fellow musician Tahmus Rounds and started a little two piece ukulele and tenor guitar band called Porch Music.

In 1999 Tom had met Neko Case at Schuba's Tavern. Within the year Tom would begin to work with Case and company in what continues to be a very successful and busy band. Case's "Middle Cyclone" opened at #3 in the US on it's March 2009 debut. Tom continues to tour full time with Neko Case. Tom can currently be found on a world tour with Jakob Dylan scheduled to run through the end of 2110. He is also working on his much anticipated ukulele album to debut in the fall of 2011.