|Bill Toms and Hard Rain|
Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and Nashville-based producer, Will Kimbrough, has described; Pittsburgh musician, Bill Toms, as “a poet, a soul-shouter and guitar slinger with one foot in the gutter and an eye on the heavens above.”
Even though Toms has been around the music scene for quite a while, I’m chagrined to say that I’ve never heard him live. Hopefully, that’s all going to change starting at 9 p.m. this Saturday, December 19 when I plan to catch Toms and his band Hard Rain at Excuses, 2526 East Carson Street on Pittsburgh’s South Side. The concert will also feature the “Soulful Horns.”
Toms joined Pittsburgh’s legendary band, Joe Grushecky and The Houserockers, as lead guitarist in 1987. The band’s meteoric rise into the professional music scene enabled Toms to tour the United States and Europe repeatedly. While with Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers he opened for and played with a long and impressive list of notables - The Band, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Little Feat and Stevie Ray Vaughn. During his 20 years of playing guitar, co-writing, and singing back-up vocals for the Houserockers, Toms recorded six studio albums and one live concert album. In 1995, the acclaimed CD, “American Babylon,” was recorded and produced by Bruce Springsteen.
Toms’ solo performances have taken him all over the United States and Europe. In addition to his previous seven studio CD's, one “Live” CD, and single EP, his latest record, the Will Kimbrough produced, “Deep In The Shadows” was released to international critical acclaim in 2015.
Writing for Soundstage Xperience, Red Bennett said about his album ‘Memphis’ "Though he's Pittsburgh based, Tom's gravelly voice sings of rebellion, love, hurt, and the down and out just like he's lived in Memphis all his life. The styles might vary a bit, just as they do on Memphis Beat, but he has commitment in spades and enough energy to power a small city. The singer-songwriter sweeps into your life like a tornado; if he's singing, you'd better pay attention. But, heck, you won't mind doing that at all."
This Saturday, Toms is inviting his fans and those who’ve never before heard him play with these words. “Celebrate the holiday season with the band on their home turf. Soul pouring out of your body, while sweat stained shirts will be hung from mantel with care.. Santa will be shaking it, as will Mrs Clause. Hip moving, pelvis groovin, hand clappin, gospel singin to bring in 2016.”To hear some of Toms’ music, go to Youtube.com or visit his website www.billtoms.com. Tickets for this Saturday’s concert are $7.00. If you miss this one, Toms will be at Moondog’s in Blawnox at 8 p.m. on Saturday, January 23 and back again at Excuses at 9 p.m. on Saturday, February 13.