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Tom Principato

Guitarist, singer, and songwriter Tom Principato has long been a regional star in Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. He has toured nationally around the U.S., Canada, and Europe, but often the venues are clubs. His particular blend of blues-rock is highly specific; jazz guitar master Pat Metheny said of Principato, "he has an enormous talent at telling stories in his solos; he doesn't play 'standard' licks." Raised in suburban Washington, D.C. his early guitar playing heroes included Roy Buchanan and Danny Gatton. He listened to his parents' recordings by the likes of Chet Atkins and the Benny Goodman Sextet with Charlie Christian, and like a lot of kids, discovered the power of Chicago blues in his high school years.

Earlier in his professional career, Principato divided his time between two still-great cities for blues, Washington, D.C. and Boston. Principato was the leader of a band, Powerhouse, whose only album but lively shows made them a major club attraction in the late '70s. In 1980, Principato also joined guitarist Geoff Muldaur on the road and recorded an album with him as a member of his band. Back home in D.C. in 1981, he sought out and hooked up with a number of musicians, including Big Mama Thornton, Billy Price, and Sunnyland Slim and the Assassins, a band that included Nighthawks guitarist Jimmy Thackery. Principato recorded two albums with the Assassins, No Previous Record (1986) and Partners in Crime (1987). By 1987, Principato had launched his own solo career, playing at various nightclubs in and around D.C. and northern Virginia with varying trios. He made a live recording with his early mentor, Danny Gatton, Blazing Telecasters, which was later released in 1990.

Since 1984, Principato has recorded many solo albums featuring his own varying groups. They include Smokin! (1986) I Know What You're Thinkin (1988) Blazing Telecasters with Danny Gatton, In Orbit (1990) Tip of the Iceberg (1992), In the Clouds (1995), and Really Blue (1998). He released Blues Over the Years in 1999, Not One Word in 2000, Live in Europe in 2001, Fingers on Fire with Pete Kennedy (now of the folk-rock duo the Kennedys) in 2002, House on Fire in 2003, Oh No! More Blazing Telecasters in 2005, and Guitar Gumbo, released that same year. His most recent recording, Raising the Roof, was released in 2008.

Through the years, Principato has released records on his own Powerhouse Records label, as well as with the now-defunct, Atlanta-based Ichiban label. His live shows, often accompanied by just a bassist and drummer, are exciting, with lots of guitar pyrotechnics and great playing from the other members of his ensemble. Since the 1990s, Principato has enjoyed ongoing endorsement deals with Fender guitars, DR String Co., Seymour Duncan pickups, and Roger Mayer effects pedals. (The London-based Mayer made a variety of effects pedals and electronic gadgets for Jimi Hendrix.)

Based in Falls Church, VA., when he's not out delivering his powerful live shows to crowds in clubs and theaters, Principato is like lot of unheralded blues and roots rock performers; he spends a lot of time in Europe, where the crowds in general seem to be much more appreciative of indigenous American styles. Other than a brief flirtation with Island Records, he has never been signed to a major label. ~ Richard Skelly, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Awesome!!! Jamming Sweet sound.. step aside Clapton. This is fresh. Need to hear more Principato
I like this guy!
Then again in 2007 at The Sunset Grill in Annondale, Va. He is great!
I seen him at The Mighty Fine seafood and bbq in Front Royal, Va. in 1998
We saw Tom at The Kitchen Pass, Joplin, Mo. In 1997. He was AWSOME very entertaining and unforgettabl e .
ttotsto3
Found out about Tom a few years ago and now I don't miss his shows when he's in Charlotte (Double Door Inn). He puts on a heck of a live show without doing the rock star tricks we've come to expect from a lot of players. He plays extremely well, sings well, and writes good music - he's the complete package.
Now this is relaxing music,..was just looking for some Santana,..I love the song Europa,..and I thought I'd try out a few of the similar sounds,..I really like what I'm hearing.
Very easy on the ears.
Have gone to several of his summer concerts in the DC area. He always delivers A+ performances ! !
delightfully surprised, Hot !!!
first time hearing this smokin' guy.love it.
vpgagolf1
This cat can play, sounds like Joe Saputo out of Tampa
mighid62
first time listening to your musicaand i LOVE it
Love that Bleussy sound! wow!!!
sthroner
Nice work. Wish he played off the neck pickup more. His tone is a little quacky on the few tunes I have heard so far. He clearly spent a lot of time listening to Robben Ford. Si?
Hard to sit still when listing to this guy! :-)
rondag5
Tom Principato great guitarist, highly recommended!
whitakersal
He sounds like Stevie Ray Van. I wish he hadn't died. Now I just look for his sound.
deniss5
Tom is amazing! Saw him live and heartily recommend his show to everyone who likes his music. He's an amazing performer, has a great band, and packs a great punch both on vocals and guitar. Support him, buy his records direct from Powerhouse Records!
Very nice guitar work! Living in Colorado, I'd never heard of him. Love to see him sometime.
avocadolemon
This stuff lit my headphones on fire! Wow! Good stuff.
love good jamming guitar, Tom's got the chops.
Sweet
Tom is a great musician. Support the fellow. It's all but impossible to make a living playing music in DC...
Wow - Danny Gatton really rubbed off on Tom!
good stuff!

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