Arts & Entertainment

F.C.’s Tom Principato Talks Wammie Nods, Euro Tours

The News-Press recently caught up with Wammie-nominated Falls Church native Tom Principato. He’s sung and strummed his Fender Telecaster all over the globe, winning 23 Wammies. This Sunday, he could be once again named best Blues/Traditional R&B Instrumentalist.tomprincipato

The News-Press recently caught up with Wammie-nominated Falls Church native Tom Principato. He’s sung and strummed his Fender Telecaster all over the globe, winning 23 Wammies. This Sunday, he could be once again named best Blues/Traditional R&B Instrumentalist.

tomprincipato

WAMMIE-WINNING Tom Principato at his Falls Church home. (Photo: News-Press)

News-Press: You’ve won 23 Wammies, including one last year for your album Raising the Roof. How does it feel to be a veteran and going for win number 24?

Tom Principato: Well, it is always nice to be nominated and great to win. Though, at this point, I have won so many, that if somebody else wins, that’s OK too. I feel like my music has been appreciated by the local community and am thankful for that.

N-P: You’re going to be heading to Europe soon on tour. (Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland). What is the difference between playing a hometown show and one across the ocean?

Principato: There is definitely a different vibe. Hometown crowds are always nice and enthusiastic, and so they are both similar in that way. But as far as response in the U.S. versus Europe, I’d say we get a better response in Europe.

N-P: Do different countries feel different to play in?

Principato: The response is pretty similar all over Europe. I’d say the biggest responses are in France, Belgium, Holland, Spain, Italy and Germany. There are some cultural differences, though. Spain and Italy have a love of life and that is noticeable. They love our music no matter where we go.

N-P: You are known for you r guitar work and being one of the great Fender Telecaster players. You said in an interview that you found a 1960s model with a ’57 Esquire bridge and that it was “a dream.” What about that particular guitar does it for you? Is it the sound, the feel?

Principato: Yes, it is about the sound and feel. I have small hands, so there aren’t a lot of guitar necks that feel right in my hand. But I have found that when you really enjoy the sound of your guitar, you will play better. Also, if you don’t like the sound of your guitar, it can have an adverse effect on your playing as well.

N-P: Being that you are known for playing Fenders and having a rock/bluesy sound, you must get compared to Eric Clapton a lot – do you like that comparison and think it’s an apt one?

Principato: I don’t dislike it. We both have a lot of the same influences: B.B. King, Albert King … the old blues masters. I feel like at this point in my career I should, and do, have my own sound though.

N-P: Raising the Roof has a really great mix of not just blues songs, but also an unmistakable New Orleans and reggae sound like “In the Middle of the Night.” Have you ever thought of releasing an all reggae album and going for a Wammie in that category?

Principato: [Laughs] I do love Reggae, but I don’t think I’m adept enough at it to do a whole album. Funny you should bring that up, though; I have actually been working on a new reggae track recently. I don’t know if it is going to be an instrumental yet or what, so we’ll see.

N-P: Over the years, you’ve gotten to play with some legends: Big Mama Thorton, Danny Gatton. If you could play with anybody, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Principato: B.B. King, because he had such a strong influence on my playing. Also, Les Paul and Chet Atkins. They fired up my passions. Pat Metheny, too. I admire his playing so much.

N-P: You’ve been playing guitar since you were 11, yet it always seems like you are having a lot of fun while playing and really enjoying it. What keeps it fresh?

Principato: It really is a challenge. I try and discuss this with my students. I tell them to try and stay connected to what you love about [music] and what inspired you to start playing in the first place. There is a lot of pleasure that comes with working with something for so long. I find, the more I learn the better I get and the better I get the more I learn. There is something about picking up a guitar and getting to decide where I am going to go with it today.

• For more on Tom Principato, visit www.tomprincipato.com.

 

WAMMIE-WINNING Tom Principato at his Falls Church home. (Photo: News-Press)

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