Tom Mitchell is a swing/jazz guitar player and singer rooted in the styles found in 1920’s and 30’s jazz, western swing, country blues and old-time music. He has happily been both sideman and leader for a great variety of musical endeavors. In addition to singing and playing guitar, he’s played mandolin, banjo, tenor or tiple when the need arose. After ten years of touring with Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks, Tom has found a home in Baltimore and can be seen there playing with lots of great players and bands including the Blue Rhythm Boys and the Redwine Jazz Trio.
At the age of twenty, he joined his first western swing band, playing music that most folks had never known or had long since forgotten. He spent his days hunting through piles of dusty 78’s, listening to and learning the music that had captured his imagination. A few years later, he was spending long nights playing for both swing and square (!) dances, sometimes backing up dancers including the great Lindy Hop pioneer Frankie Manning. During that time he was lucky enough to play with some of the DC Jazz greats, including old-timers like Al Seibert and Ted Efantis; and made Brooks Tegler's standing gig on Sunday afternoons at the Inn at Glen Echo his religion.
From 1993 through 2002, Tom had the pleasure of touring with the legendary recording artist Dan Hicks & his Hot Licks across the United States and around the world. He played on two of Hicks’ recordings including the acclaimed CD, “Beatin' The Heat,” which USA Today called “one of the blessings of the new millennium”; The recording made TIME magazine’s “Top Ten CD’s of the Year List, and Rolling Stone gave it 3 ½ stars; it featured guest appearances from Bette Midler, Ricki Lee Jones, Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, and Brian Setzer.
Double Scotch, Tom’s band with jazz violinist Kevin Wimmer, recorded one eponymous CD featuring Robert Redd on piano, Brooks Tegler on drums and John Previti on bass. Recorded in three days, the CD is filled with sophisticated arrangements, and a thoughtful playlist that highlight Tom’s powerful vocals on songs like “They all Laughed” and “When It’s Sleepy Time Down South”. “Double Scotch” is a favorite of swing dancers around the country.
The first CD by the Blue Rhythm Boys, "Monday Morning Blues"with Jim Stephanson, Kevin Wimmer and Ralph Gordon earned a WAMA “Wammie Award” in the Big Band/Swing category. Of this band, Eric Brace then the Nightline columnist of the Washington Post said: "The Blue Rhythm Boys are a swing trio that knocks my socks off, with two first-rate guitarists, Tom Mitchell and Jim Stephanson, who carry the "Washington Grows Great Guitarists" torch into the 21st century. "
Awarded a "Musician to Musician" grant in 2003 via Chamber Music Annapolis, Tom found himself in Holland for a month studying with master Gypsy guitarist, Fapy Lafertin. A strong love for gypsy jazz has influenced his decidedly American playing style.
In 2004 Tom began working with Ann Savoy, Kevin Wimmer, Joel and Wilson Savoy along with members of the fabulous young Louisiana group, The Red Stick Ramblers: Chas Justus, Eric Frey and Glenn Fields to form Ann Savoy & Her Sleepless Knights. This band produced two recordings on Memphis International Records: “If Dreams Come True” and the 2010 release “Black Coffee”. They have played some great gigs from Jazz Fest in New Orleans to The Getty Museum in Los Angeles. The collaboration led to a movie soundtrack spot for Ann Savoy’s song “O Comm’e Les Nuit” in the Sony picture “All the Kings Men”.
In 2010, the Blue Rhythm Boys, with Jim Stephanson, John Previti and Vince McCool released their second record on Big L Records: “Come on If You’re Comin’”. The guys were happy to work with some good pals and great musicians on this one including Kevin Wimmer, the late great Dave Giegerich, Ralph Gordon and Mark Schatz .
As a teacher and performer Tom has worked at many music and dance workshops and camps such as Ashokan Fiddle and Dance, Puget Sound Guitar Workshop, The Swannanoa Gathering, The Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and Augusta Heritage Workshops.
Tom's love of swing guitar shines brightly through his playing, and his extensive knowledge and appreciation of jazz history and tradition brings a “true to style” integrity to any venture he undertakes, and that has been enough to feed his soul for his entire life.
Click here for a partial list of folks Tom has recorded with or with whom he has shared a stage.