Tom Cunningham - Fiddle, Mandolin, Guitar & Vocals
BTC: Please tell us about your background as a musician including your childhood training. Why Bluegrass and Americana as a genre?
TC: I started playing in elementary school ironically with the violin. I switched to drums as soon as there was an opening and didn’t go back to the fiddle until my teens. I was also playing guitar at home as my older siblings all played. I started playing gigs while still in high school. I played a lot of folk music and popular singer-songwriter songs and I discovered bluegrass in the early 70’s while camping in Yosemite and began concentrating on fiddle, mandolin and flat-pick guitar styles. I got a great gig with The Daydreamers Ball, a well loved bluegrass band in Northern California playing the acoustic hot spots in San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa. My bluegrass chops were honed with that band.
BTC: What is your most favorite Bluegrass Artist and why?
TC: That’s a tough question, may I mention a couple? Ricky Skaggs was an early influence and continues to be today. Tim O’Brian was another favorite with his band Hot Rize and also continues to be one of my favorites.
BTC: What is your most favorite Bluegrass Album and why?
TC: J. D. Crowe & The New South is an album by American banjo player J. D. Crowe and The New South, released in 1975. I still do about 5 songs off that album. It really taught me how a bluegrass band should sound.
BTC: Do you have a favorite charity and can you tell us about it?
TC: Green Oak Ranch is a Christ-centered recovery program for men and women 18-50 years of age. I’ve been playing there every Wednesday night whenever I’m in town for about two years now.
BTC: What is your favorite San Diego Restaurant?
TC: Another tough call! So many good restaurants in San Diego. I love Island Prime overlooking San Diego Bay. In North County I like 333 Pacific in Oceanside. I’m obviously a seafood lover!
BTC: Desert Island Question...which of the following would you bring: book, album, food, & musical instruement?
TC: Well, I’d have to say I’d bring The Bible, Vince Gill’s These Days, a fishing pole and pizza and I guess I’d have to say a guitar!