Tom Principato

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Tom Principato
Born1952 (age 66–67)
Washington, D.C., United States
GenresElectric blues, blues rock[1]
Occupation(s)Singer, guitarist, and songwriter
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1970s–present
WebsiteOfficial website

Tom Principato (born 1952)[2] is an American electric blues and blues rock singer, guitarist, and songwriter.

Principato has recorded more than twenty albums over the years. One of his most recent releases, Robert Johnson Told Me So (2013), featured keyboard work by Chuck Leavell.[3] Pat Metheny stated of Principato that "he has an enormous talent at telling stories in his solos; he doesn't play 'standard' licks."[1]

Life and career[edit]

Principato was born in Washington, D.C., and was initially inspired by the music of Roy Buchanan, Chet Atkins, and Danny Gatton.[1] However, a life changing moment occurred when he was still a teenager. Principato remembered "seeing B.B. King for three shows a night, three nights in a row, in 1969 at The Cellar Door club. I was 17 years old, still in high school, and still developing my guitar and music skills."[4] Principato led the band Powerhouse in the late 1970s, which released Night Life to some acclaim.[5] He joined the touring Geoff Muldaur in 1980, and recorded an album, I Ain't Drunk, as part of the ensemble known as Geoff Muldaur and His Bad Feet.[1] He followed this by operating as a session musician, playing both in the studio and in concert with musicians including Sunnyland Slim, Billy Price, Big Mama Thornton, and James Montgomery. Joining the Assassins with Jimmy Thackery, he recorded two albums, No Previous Record (1986) and Partners In Crime (1987).[5] The latter recording earned Principato his first Washington Area Music Awards (Wammys).[6]

By the mid-1980s, Principato commenced his solo career, recording the live album, Blazing Telecasters, with Danny Gatton. It was eventually released in 1990. It was considered for a Grammy Award nomination.[5] In 1988, Principato appeared at the Notodden Blues Festival.

From that time onwards, Principato has recorded a string of solo albums, which have seen him accompanied by an ever changing backing ensemble. These include Smokin' (1985), I Know What You're Thinkin'... (1989), In Orbit (1991), Tip of the Iceberg (1992), In the Clouds (1995), and Really Blue (1998).[1] Tip of the Iceberg was co-produced by Chuck Leavell, who had also performed on Really Blue. In 1995, Principato's song "In The Clouds" was also considered for nominating for a Grammy.[5]

Fingers on Fire (2002) was originally recorded in 1978 with Pete Kennedy (now with The Kennedys), and was followed by more solo work on House on Fire (2003), Guitar Gumbo (2005), and Raising the Roof! (2008).[1] The latter album gained Principato another Wammy in 2009.[7] In July 2011, Principato and his band performed at the Montreux Jazz Festival.[8]

His latest album, Robert Johnson Told Me So, was launched at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Supper Club on November 16, 2013.[9]


In 2000, Principato's book, Open-String Guitar Chords, was published by the Hal Leonard Corporation (ISBN 978-0634004780).[5]


Principato has collected more than twenty Washington Area Music Awards (Wammys).[10]


Since the 1990s, Principato has had endorsement deals with Fender, Seymour Duncan pick ups, and Roger Mayer guitar effects pedals.[1]

Present day[edit]

Currently living in Falls Church, Virginia, he regularly tours across North America plus Europe, and continues to self-release records.[1]



Year Title Record label(s) Credits and notes
1984 Blazing Telecasters Powerhouse Records Danny Gatton / Tom Principato (live album)
1985 Smokin' Powerhouse Records Tom Principato
1989 I Know What You're Thinkin'... Powerhouse Records / Sting Music The Tom Principato Band
1991 In Orbit Powerhouse Records / Ichiban Records Tom Principato featuring Powerhouse
1991 Hot Stuff! Powerhouse Records / Ichiban Records Tom Principato
1992 Tip of the Iceberg Powerhouse Records Tom Principato
1995 In the Clouds Powerhouse Records / Ichiban Records Tom Principato
1998 Really Blue Ichiban Records Tom Principato
2000 Live and Kickin' Powerhouse Records Tom Principato (live album)
2000 Not One Word Powerhouse Records Tom Principato
2001 Play It Cool DixieFrog Records Tom Principato
2001 Blue Licks & Voodoo Things DixieFrog Records Tom Principato
2001 Live in Europe 1988 Powerhouse Records The Tom Principato Band (live album)
2002 Fingers on Fire Powerhouse Records Tom Principato and Pete Kennedy
2003 Blues Over the Years Voodoo Records / DixieFrog Records Tom Principato
2003 House on Fire Powerhouse Records Tom Principato
2005 Oh No! More Blazing Telecasters Powerhouse Records Danny Gatton / Tom Principato (live album)
2005 Guitar Gumbo Powerhouse Records / DixieFrog Records Tom Principato
2008 Raising the Roof! DixieFrog Records The Tom Principato Band
2010 A Part of Me Powerhouse Records / DixieFrog Records Tom Principato
2012 Guitars on Fire : Live at Chez Paulette Powerhouse Records Fred Chapellier / Tom Principato (live album)
2013 Robert Johnson Told Me So Powerhouse Records Tom Principato
2015 Live & Still Kickin Powerhouse Records Tom Principato


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Richard Skelly. "Tom Principato | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  2. ^ "Tom Principato - Falls Church, VA | MyLife®". Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  3. ^ "Tom Principato - Robert Johnson Told Me So". Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  4. ^ Lewis, John (2014-01-02). "Life-Changing Art: Tom Principato | All the Pieces Matter". Baltimore magazine. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  5. ^ a b c d e "Tom Principato's Biography". 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  6. ^ "Tom Principato | Explore the Arts - The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts". Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  7. ^ "Live Last Night: The Wammies - Post Rock". Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  8. ^ "Tom Principato Band". ReverbNation. 2011-07-15. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  9. ^ "Tom Principato's New Album Release Celebration - Bethesda Magazine - November-December 2013 - Bethesda, MD". Bethesda Magazine. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  10. ^ "Tom Principato Band". Wolf Trap. Retrieved 2014-03-19.
  11. ^ "Tom Principato | Discography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-03-19.

External links[edit]