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Tom Hanway Credits and Biography (2009)

Posted by Tom Hanway on Friday, October 16, 2009

Tom Hanway composes his own songs and instrumentals and plays full-time.  His three critically acclaimed releases became available recently as digital downloads via Universal at online music stores including iTunes and Amazon.
Tom is well known in bluegrass, country and jam band circles for his ability to shape-shift between styles, on stage and in the studio, New Yorker Tom Hanway began playing the 5-string in 1985, studying with Tony Trischka and Bill Keith

Tom played in the John Herald Band and was gathered up in the summer of '90 by the seditious Provincetown Jug Band, called the "Greatest Bar Band in Captivity" by the Boston Globe.  The band played seven nights a week at the popular Surf Club in Cape Cod and took no prisoners.  Tom was schooled in local song and the Sons of Liberty, who planned the Boston Tea Party.

Back home, he began frequenting bluegrass and Irish sessions and established an eclectic roots music festival, becoming one of New York City's most versatile banjo players and co-promoter of the Big Apple Bluegrass & Folk Festival in Greenwich Village.

Tom alias "Badbelly" sings powerful country blues and gospel and shreds on guitar and 5-string banjo.  Hear his take on 'Hesitation Blues' with renowned fiddler Vassar Clements (order The Badbelly Project: Hesitation Blues album at left).

In the 80s he studied blues guitar with Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna) at the New School of Social Research (NYC), also taking in the styles of Robert Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Lightnin' Hopkins, Elizabeth Cotten, Blind Blake, Josh White, Mississippi John Hurt and Doc Watson. 

On his debut CD, Bucket of Bees, Tom worked with bluegrass luminaries Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, David Grier, Barry Mitterhoff, Tony Trischka, Bill Keith, Kenny Kosek, and Vassar Clements.  This innovative CD, recorded in New York and Nashville, received rave reviews including a full-page "Highlight" Review in Bluegrass Unlimited, garnering Hanway international distribution and airplay across America and in Japan.  Nashville's multiple-Grammy-producing engineer, Bil VornDick, worked the faders and captured the magic. 

'Elephant Hop' was selected for KBC's Prime Cuts of Bluegrass, Volume 1, and in a Nationwide Poll was voted "No. 1" by America's Top Bluegrass Deejays, Tom's original tune edging out a powerhouse duet by Earl Scruggs and John McEuen ('Carolina Traveler').

Tom's Bucket of Bees has seven original tunes and shifts between bluegrass, newgrass, jazz and Celtic, confirming Tom’s ability to play in context.  Tom Hanway & Blue Horizon reveals Tom's skills as an arranger and bandleader.  Today several tracks from Bucket of Bees and Tom Hanway & Blue Horizon receive steady rotation on IBMA deejay Bob Mitchell's "Best of Bluegrass" program on Radio Bluegrass International (RBI).

The Badbelly Project: Hesitation Blues has Tom belting out blues and gospel and teaming up with other-worldly fiddler Vassar Clements on a tour de force acoustic guitar project.  Helping out are Trip Henderson, Lucy Kaplansky, Lincoln Schleifer and Larry Campbell (Bob Dylan, Phil & Friends, Levon Helm Band).

Hanway wears many musical hats, his father Jack being a skilled trad-jazz cornet player who taught him the importance of bare-bones melody and steady rhythm, giving Tom his first real ear-training and repertoire.

For six years he and his wife Kathleen (Low) Hanway, from Australia, promoted the Big Apple Bluegrass & Folk Festival, until her untimely death in 2002.

Tom now lives in Ireland where he has recorded with dozens of bluegrass, folk and country artists on banjo and guitar.  Tom tours, writes, teaches and leads bluegrass and Celtic banjo workshops at festivals. 

He is a stylistic pioneer, one of the world's foremost experts on "Celtic fingerstyle banjo".  Tom is author of Mel Bay's Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo.  This is a popular seller worldwide for over a decade. 

Tom was banjo columnist for Acoustic Musician magazine in the early '90s and has contributed articles and tablatures to Banjo NewsLetter, 5-String Quarterly and Banjo Gazette. He has written on Celtic music for the Celtic League and for Mel Bay's Guitar Sessions® Web Magazine.  Tom is busy collecting tunes across Ireland for three more Celtic banjo books and CDs for Mel Bay. 

Hanway teamed up with top banjo maker Geoff Stelling to co-design the Stelling SwallowTail Deluxe and Standard Banjo (1997), a Bluegrass/Celtic instrument with an innovative design.  The first SwallowTail was completed in 1998 and has become one of Stelling’s most popular models. The actor Steve Martin purchased a SwallowTail Deluxe, true to Tom's original model.

Tom often joins The Molly Hicks, Galway's best-loved bluegrass unit and international band, who play festivals and concerts across Ireland and who just released a 13-song CD, with contemporary and original songs. 

He has helped bluegrass, folk and country artists on dozens of releases on both sides of the Atlantic.  Tom does studio session work and works with top country artists in Ireland and the USA.

Tom Hanway is distributed worldwide through Digital Revolution Entertainment via Universal. His three recordings can be downloaded through iTunes, a la carte or as entire albums, or download them through iTunes or Amazon on his homepage:

Mel Bay's Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo (Book/CD Set) can be ordered from either Tom's homepage or his MySpace page.

See also: 

3 comments on “Tom Hanway Credits and Biography (2009)”

fixdent Says:
Saturday, October 17, 2009 @6:29:41 AM

Wow...Tom....what a list...

I wish some of that talent would rub off on me..LOL


Frisco Fred Says:
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 @4:57:28 AM

Your bio reminds me of Alan Price's soundtrac to "O' Lucky Man"
"...Everyone is going through changes,
No one kows what's going on,
Everybody changes places,
But the world carries on,
Now, Love must always change to sorrow,
And everyone must play the game..."

Tom Hanway Says:
Tuesday, December 14, 2010 @7:50:45 AM

Frisco Fred, thanks for reading through that. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Ireland is a rough place to get anywhere in the music biz, so I try to remember to keep my head down and just just keep playing. Tony Rice school of performing. Play every note, play them well, and don't be distracted by non-essentials.

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