Arts & Entertainment

Press Pass: Tom Principato

tomTom Principato has been a fixture in the Washington, D.C. music scene for over 40 years … and he feels like he’s just getting started. Ask him about what he’d like to do and he’ll tell you he’d like to tour even more than he does now. And with good reason: He’ll soon be supporting his latest album, A Part of Me, which is out now. With a release party scheduled for the Birchmere on Feb. 18 and a show at JV’s in Falls Church Friday, Jan. 28, we sat Tom down to get his veteran P.O.V. on the evolution of music in and around the District, as well as his latest and greatest work.

tomTom Principato has been a fixture in the Washington, D.C. music scene for over 40 years … and he feels like he’s just getting started. Ask him about what he’d like to do and he’ll tell you he’d like to tour even more than he does now. And with good reason: He’ll soon be supporting his latest album, A Part of Me, which is out now. With a release party scheduled for the Birchmere on Feb. 18 and a show at JV’s in Falls Church Friday, Jan. 28, we sat Tom down to get his veteran P.O.V. on the evolution of music in and around the District, as well as his latest and greatest work.

Mike Hume: You’ve been a part of the D.C. music scene since the 70s. What has changed about it since then?

Tom Principato: One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed is that people don’t go out to see live music as often as they used to. I don’t think live music is valued the way it was in the 70s and 80s. It’s part of our changing times in general I think. The economy, the fact that a lot of younger club goers in the 70s are now older with families and don’t go out as much – and the fact that there are a lot of different and often free or cheaper entertainment options that are offered to everyone without even having to leave their homes like cable TV, on demand movies, DVD’s, etc.

MH: What’s the most enjoyable part of the Washington music scene for you?

TP: Since I’ve lived in the D.C. area most of my life, I love the feeling of community that I get here from all of the relationships and the fan base I’ve developed over the years. And there is a lot of great talent in the D.C. area.

MH: What’s kept you in music for so long? How do you keep it feeling fresh?

TP: I’ve always had this passion for all styles of music. I knew quite early in my life that it was my calling. I try to stay fresh by continually striving to improve as a person, guitarist, singer and composer. I’m always exploring and trying to discover new music and new ways to perform music.

MH: How does your new album compare to your earlier works? What’s changed in your writing style?

TP: Well, I think it’s my best work so far and it is my first album of all original music. I like to think that all aspects of my music are improving and maturing. The subject matter of the songs on this CD are my most personal songs yet. I try to concentrate a lot more these days on my songwriting and more of my own life experience subject matter that I think might strike a chord with everyone. In this case the loss of loved ones is a recurring theme on the CD.

MH: Did you ever hit dry spells when writing music over the past 40 years? And how do you break out of those spells?

TP: I find that with all of the different jobs I do relating to the business end of the music – I’ve owned the indie label Powerhouse Records for over 25 years now and the catalogue has grown quite a bit. … I regularly go through periods of dealing with more business issues than actually performing or writing or just being a musician in general. That can put a damper on growth and progress as an artist. When those periods happen, I eventually am able to reconnect with why I play music to begin with and what I love about it. When that happens inspiration is usually close at hand.

 

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