Story of the slide

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Tom Larsen is known among guitar players as a slide player’s slide player. His command of

this style of blues guitar is one of the aspects of his musicianship that sets him apart from

other blues men. Tom taught himself slide back in his acoustic-only days (early 70’s) by listening to two record albums by Robert Johnson - “King of the Delta Blues”. By repeated playing of the songs, especially the original version of “Crossroads”, he absorbed not only the specific “licks” of the song but also the subtler aspects of phrasing, tone and timing. “I also enjoyed Charlie Patton, Son House and Blind Willie McTell, but Robert Johnson was my

major tutor because I got to his albums first.”

“Once you decipher his style and can closely approximate it, the styles of most other slide players are much easier to figure out.” “Robert Johnson was The Man.” Tom was especially impressed with the acoustic slide on Johnny Winter’s first Columbia album, specifically the tune “Dallas”. “It is very rough, authentic, bluesy and technically nimble all at once.” “That tune is tough!”

It was via slide guitar that Tom Larsen expanded his blues guitar studies to include electric guitar. “Once I heard Elmore James playing electric versions of Robert Johnson licks I realized that I could be a plugged-in blues man without too much sweat.” “My first electric guitar was the same single pick-up Gibson SG that I play on stage today.” “I liked the double cutaway style because it allowed me to play way up high on the neck.” “After years of bumping into the box (on acoustic guitars) around the 14th fret, the SG was a blast!” “I played electric slide for a good couple of years before I ever tried picking any leads with my fingers.” “Slide came more naturally to me for some reason.”

Tom uses a real wine bottle neck for his “bottleneck playing”. “I went to a liquor store in Texas and selected a bottle of wine because of the length and unangled neck on the bottle.” “In the time-honored blues tradition I drank the wine, broke the bottle away and ground the sharp edges down on a sidewalk curb.” “It broke just right and ground down easily and I felt that somehow I was meant to meet up with this particular bottleneck and that we were destined to play some seriously rowdy slide together.”

But the best was yet to come; “I shook out the small slivers of glass and inserted my pinky and felt a small imperfection inside.” “There was a small ridge about 2 ½ inches down on the inside of the neck, not visible from the outside.” “That little ridge fit perfectly in the top joint of my finger, almost like a handle.” “It was as if it was custom made for me, insuring a secure, snug fit that would never come off no matter how wild the show got.” “What were the odds that of all the millions of bottles of wine out there, I would select this particular one that fit me perfectly?” “It was a gift from God.” Tom’s live shows have always featured a healthy block of slide guitar and he has played with a wide variety of items over the years. In any given performance he uses lit cigarette lighters, bottles, ash trays, pool cues, keys, knives, pistols, Harley handlebars, ladies boot heels, chairs and even tables! Recently he has been seen spanking out a solo on a lucky female’s derriere………….!

Tom’s CD “Get A Life!” released in May of 1998 contains a live, lively original slide tune called ’Hawaiian Stomp.” “It rocks!” His latest release, “Wrong Side of Tha Blues” feaures hard-core, heavy slide using a wah-wah!



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