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When you get right down to it... to the heart of what the blues are all about... Eric Clapton hit the nail on the head. “It was one man and his guitar versus the world,” he said. “It was one guy who was completely alone and had no options, no alternatives other than just to sing and play to ease his pains.”
It doesn’t matter how the music has changed and charged its way around the world in the years since the first bluesmen arose a century back in the American south. It doesn’t matter how volume and fusion and international superstardom have shaped and shifted things around. The blues that Clapton plays today mean the same thing that Howlin’ Wolf was playing in the fifties, and Son House was playing in the thirties, and they’re the same as Tom Killner is playing today.
The sound may change, and the delivery, too. But the blues will always be the blues. Tom Killner understood that before he even discovered that the music had a name.
He’s young by the standards of the bluesman archetype. Born in 1996, there are Oasis CDs that are older than him, and he grew up in a musical world formed not around the swagger of Robert Johnson, the anguish of Ma Rainey, the mystery of Geeshie Wylie, but the conveyor belt pop and talent show slop that permeated everything in early 21st century England.
The Tom Killner Band formed in February 2012, a tight trio in the classic blues format of guitar (Tom), bass (Oliver Tallent) and drums (originally Graham Shaw, but now long time friend Jake Ashton).
It was a line-up that worked for Cream, that worked for Taste, and worked for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Now it’s working for the Tom Killner Band, as they set up the no-holds-barred barrage that hit that year’s Great British Blues Festival like a levee giving way, and has swamped every other stage the band has played on... from the vastness of blues festivals in Wakefield and Hebden Bridge (two years running, voted the UK’s best blues event), to theaters and clubs around the country.
“I try to add as much energy to the live show as I can each night,” explains Tom. “No two shows are the same, and no song is played the same. Every night, I try and mix as many influences in as possible - Blues, Soul, Southern Rock, Funk... and it seems to be keeping everyone happy!”
Their fame continued to spread. The Tom Killner Band opened for Danny Bryant, and were rewarded with the headliner’s own admiration - “an excellent, incredible guitarist.”
“You guys rocked!” declared an astonished Gwyn Ashton, after the Band played a show with him.
Endorsements from Fret-King and Vintage Guitar sent the Band’s stock soaring even higher; while their first EP, Complicated, became a BBC radio favorite. And finally, inevitably, the Tom Killner Band’s acclaim reached across the ocean, to the Los Angeles headquarters of Cleopatra Records.
Blues historian Dave Thompson is the author of the books “Cream: The World’s First Supergroup” (Virgin Books) “Robert Plant - the Voice that Sailed the Zeppelin” (Backbeat Books) and “Truth...: Rod Stewart, Ron Wood and The Jeff Beck Group” (Cherry Red Books)