Footprints in the Snow
Tom Ferguson lives in Michigan, and has most of his life. Tom has always been involved with music in one way or another. When he was little, and could barely see over the keyboard, he would watch his father play the piano by ear. He took piano lessons for a few months when he was in elementary school but he didn't like it. He said the old blue haired lady that was teaching him wasn't teaching him any music he knew from the radio or anything he liked. She liked classical. He didn't. The piano lessons soon ended, but Tom kept experimenting with the keyboard and found out that he could also play by ear like his father. Then, when he was 13, Tom heard something on the radio that changed the course of his musical path. It was Andre Previn at the piano playing 'Like Young'. A jazz piece. Tom says he remembers it vividly: it was this free flowing, relaxed music like he had never heard before. He took piano lessons again when he was about 13. Jazz this time (with better results). His teacher, a high school student named Dave Shelby, taught him it was OK to improvise, just keep the music flowing. Some mistakes aren't bad things: sometimes they will give you a new direction to go that you didn't think of before. He found he likes almost everything he listens to - there are exceptions but not too many. Rock, Blues, Jazz, Folk, Soundtracks, Ballads, Fast, Slow, Salsa, old or new, and too many others to list have influenced him. He has always been fascinated with the music in movies. The idea that the mood can be set or changed by the music in the soundtrack without you really being fully aware that the music is even there... You would, however, notice it if the music wasn't there. Most of it has influenced him at one point or another. On keyboards, he has played most everything from piano up to a five manual pipe organ, through Hammond B3s, B4s, various electric pianos and synthesizers. When he was 15, he started playing the guitar. He says he watched Richie Havens play on TV and loved what he heard. He looked at Richies style of playing and tried to imitate it. He tuned the guitar like he thought Havens tuned it. Tom didn't get it the same way Richie had it. But it worked. Over the years he's refined playing it the same way. It sounds good. Looks weird, but it sounds good. On guitar, he still has the first one he played at 15: a 1958 Harmony Master 6 string acoustic. He is a sentimental packrat. He has five other guitars and as least as many keyboards that trail back through his life. He also plays bass. He developed a habit of finding out about the roots of the music, and then tracing those roots back further yet. His likes to find out the basis of different kinds of music and then rearrange the foundation of the sounds. Sometimes subtle changes make major sound changes. It's finding a different way that the music might have evolved. He also believes the music is (and always was) an extension of story telling, which is the most vivid thing you can do with language. Stories create pictures in your head. Music should, too Tom's does. Enjoy the trip, Scott Ferguson.