The Music of
Thomas E. Peterson
A Brief History

Storyline Written Backwardly,
Having Time Segment Orientation,
Based in Personal Eras Having Musical Significance.
This is Now
Now is Current

These days Tom has turned toward his music as a project unto itself. Over recent years a gradual shifting about how to proceed with having his music become his central focus in life has taken over. A realization that having other people along for the ride, so to speak, is fully unnecessary and sometimes quite hindering, in spite of the qualities that collaboration can provide. These conditions are somewhat driven by the geography of his current place of residence, rather than a desire to proceed alone. There remains a desire to form a band that can facilitate a demonstration of his music, and there are hints that it may yet happen, yet presenting his music is now the focus. The key is in working at it regularly, daily and mainly. Of course life must continue in all its other aspects as well, which brings its own requirement. The grass will continue growing as conditions allow, diverting time toward its mowing. His garden will have to be tended along with home repairs and the other basic needs, but his music is now the focus that his days begin and end with.

Another realization that puts this project into focus is that of preservation of this lifetime of work. If this project is left by the way side, along what remains of his lifetime, the body of work will slip into nothingness upon his demise. There would be a total loss of what he felt most passionate about during his lifetime, playing music, and sharing it with the people he's come across during his life's experience.

The spring of 2014, Tom found himself losing his music collaboration partner whom was moving on. This left him in the position of being forced to choose the next move in his life where it interfaces with his musical desires and a continuation. In total his history has built a sizable collection of music. The situation is familiar, but rather than seeking out another musician to fill the seeming void, or abandoning his music entirely, he turned toward finding a way to proceed forward, as a solo singer/songwriter. The inspirations that drive him on toward music seemingly continues, when the muse shows up. It continues to hold up his past efforts as a viable artist.

It is a big step, turning toward going solo. It has far reaching complexities, mainly in a very personal realm. Performing solo has a demand that playing with others can't match. Its requirement is all inclusive. The artist has, and is the only focus. This is true in both the preparation for, and during the performance. There are no props or people to hide behind or within. The moment is all there is when on stage, engaged in performing the songs. He does miss the camaraderie that was once familiar under these circumstances. His driving force remains with the music and sharing this medium in communication.

February of 2015 became the pivotal point of decision with the choice for Tom's future direction. Life was again aligning somewhat effortlessly. It seems that synchronicity allowed many of the conflicting aspects that had previously prevented moving on as a solo act, to simply fall away. This granted a personal space that seemingly funneled the decision to its conclusion. Along the road of life, Tom had learned the craft of website design, and has created several web domains. He had made spaces in one of these domains where he'd presented small portions of his music, yet this effort requires a domain of its own. One night in early February his research proved that this websites name was available for purchase and the necessary steps to facilitate the transaction were made. Another of those synchronous events took place in that moment. The company he uses as a web hosting service actually gave him the domain name without charge, because of his long time affiliation. It seems a destiny from the universe to take this path, presenting his music through; this medium, recording, video recordings, and in live performance. And now the way stands free of obstruction leaving this resultant walking along this musical path.

A Gradual

Having faced the physical adversity brought on from playing guitar, Tom recognized a life with his music had greater reward, than a life without it. His newer music provided an inspiration to persevere and again present his music to whom ever he could share it. Unlike his past he decided to continue on as a solo artist. Furthermore he decided to remove the replication of other artists compositions from his performances. The process to overcome sore finger-tips and regain his practice ethic began. It was a large step forward taking on the challenge while enduring the nerve pain associated with playing guitar. After months of applying himself to the intended goal, he also found the requirement of finding appropriate places to perform before him. He started by donating his effort to the local Farmers Market and an Environmental non-profit organization, finding some success.

In April of 2012, Tom met Trevor Miller where he (Trevor) was performing a local show, with his band. Tom was so impressed by the music heard that evening, that he made it a point to search for and find this young artist, for the single purpose of offering encouragement and support. Having a mutual friend the connection was easily made.

The telephone conversation presented an unlikely situation. Trevor's band had performed its last show, leaving him without a band and people to play his music with. This was noted as a possibility, causing Tom to ask Trevor if he would be interested in trying to see if the two of them might connect musically. It was a good musical fit and the two began the hard work of learning each other's music for two shows previously scheduled for June. Although these engagements were intended as solo performances, they both felt it would produce better results if they were performed as a duet. With a lot of hard work both shows were faced with success.

That summer the two succeeded in working up their original songs and began presenting them in performance. Their individual styles although differing complemented one an other well. With Tom being a guitarist, this allowed Trevor an opportunity to somewhat put down his guitar and see his focus shift toward his love of the mandolin. Trevor's musical interest had a strong leaning toward indie, new-grass and blue-grass. Toms own music now demonstrated an obvious element rooted in folk. Still his own creations spilled out, resistant to fitting within a single genre, having leanings toward country-rock, folk-rock and blues with some being somewhat flavored in jazz. Their two styles came together presenting a unique sound. They decided to name their duet "Tea & Eye."

Progress went well for Tea & Eye in those early days. The two had a definite dedication toward the music project, yet it remained clear that it would likely be a short lived effort. Trevor, being 33 years Tom's junior, made for an unlikely team, yet their chemistry worked. Trevor was at that time a student that would soon graduate from college study and turn his direction toward a new horizon in a different location. Yet a camaraderie grew with their music at its core. They each continued working together, collaborating in their art. After the initial phase of learning the music they had set out to present, the two started working with vocal harmonies to better decorate their music. This was soon followed by working out instrumental harmonies to add garnishing complements to the songs. Writing and composing also continued with new works, songs that quickly found themselves incorporated into the new set-lists for upcoming shows. For Tom the situation fed his inspirations bringing on the most productive creative space in his life.

The year 2013 began working at rehearsals with Tea & Eye and with writing new material. Jan 6, provided Tom with a new song, "Nowhere Fast." The lyric seeks its example in images of every day combined with those blown up by some people, as threats to national security. It attempts to demonstrate the conflicted relationship between the surveillance state and individuals striving for the betterment of society. Nine additional songs of Tom's were completed in this year. Nearly all of these songs hold statements about society, its shapes, its problems and its interface with being human in the mad mad modern world. Late in the fall of 2012, they had taken on a bassist, Allen Tedrow, with an intention of filling out their sounds missing piece. Having a bassist provided that desired completion in their over-all sound but there was a lot of work to accomplish the melding needed for performance. It slowly began coming together. Tom and Trevor found the waiting for another to catch up an untenable situation. After the show of February 28, the two recognized that bringing the bassist along was dragging at their efforts, and soon concluded to proceed on without the fullness the bass brought.

The late summer of that year, presented Tom with 7 new songs coming in rapid succession. It seemed an amazement having been so touched by the muse. Trevor too wrote two songs that summer. The two continued to work hard at adding many of these tunes to their set-list, yet Trevor was in his last quarter of school to be followed by the required medical boards. This pretty much disallowed him time for a lot of practice. Their finally as Tea & Eye was played at a private party. All too soon Trevor found employment in Oregon, causing his move and the cessation of the duet. They do however remain close friends separated by the miles.

Still the result of their unusual partnership has lasting reward. Their attempts at recording failed yet their music lives on in each of them. Some of the innovation brought by Trevor has been retained in some of Tom's songs. The introduction to the song "Why Do I Listen To The Wind," is now the standard intro to that song. Their rendition of "Alive," though rough is a viable recording, worthy of a listen.

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More of
the Same

With the disruptions of the previous time period now behind, Tom found himself again writing music and performing with Sarah at small gatherings. The central focus of his life, again saw his will to have music at its center being pushed away by others.

Music however remained a fire during this time period. He began learning the use of a digital audio workstation (DAW) for composing music without the need to have people to play it. This opened a different realm of possibility in music for him. If he could figure out the method of input for the computer to read, the computer could in-turn play this music using synthetically generated sounds. This capability encompassed nearly the full range of modern sound making instruments thus the possibilities are near endless. It allowed the creations of tunes like, "The Attic" and " Warm Sand," without actually playing an instrument. Other compositions sound quite like what one might call a string quartet with its date of origin officially representing its name. With this technique, Tom began to embellish his music with computer generated instrumentation. Want a flute here, a clarinet and saxophone or violin there, with some pains-taking computer input, it could and did become reality.

Still Tom had yet to realize that the musical adventure could only be achieved in a solo effort. Social doctrine played an integral role in his belief that success can only be achieved with the participation of others. That seemed to become a holding force, ingrained within his psyche, and it played a preventing role that halted continuing on alone in the years to come. With this mind set he was again treading the waters of time, waiting for Sarah to be as ready as her personal expression had stated. The waiting continued with the two playing at parties and at regional equestrian Endurance Rides, where Sarah also took the roll of official Veterinarian. These endurance rides offered many pleasing campfire settings, playing music for warm appreciative audiences. After several years with this situation continuing, their lives together had turned stagnant. Without a progression in music and life in general, the relationship soon ended. With this demise, Tom's fire and passion for music again faded, although to a greater extent than in any previous time.

The times to follow were accompanied by further serious spine problems, combined with its physical pain, it in turn created a loss of will to play music. It became evident that playing stringed instruments was creating physical problems, something that he had previously stated to be a requirement in life. Even so song writing somewhat persisted coming and going, sporadically through the next few challenging years. The ability and desire to write songs kept the desire to play alive, smoldering under his surface. After years had passed with lost finger callouses complete, the desire to again; play, create, and otherwise be involved in music, outweighed the suffrage brought on in doing so.

Through this time as writing new compositions occurred, Tom noticed a shift in the quality of his creations. His history had taken him through the learning process of songwriting slowly, but his method was becoming refined. Both the structural composition and the lyrical component showed a certain maturation. Through this time without playing an instrument, he turned more toward the DAW. The materials he created through this kind of composition came to a new level. He focused more at writing lyrical content of illusive imagery. This shift better serves an audience their own right to imagine a songs meaning. He also began incorporating some of his earlier experimental ideas into new works. These are ideas that fall slightly outside traditional forms. These designs are for the most part subtle, slight shifts to enunciate, yet strong enough to make them uniquely his, in a style of his own. His history in composition had also taken him through many styles in music. The genre' he reaches into span a wide view in musical types. The Jazz-like influence that had started in the song "Lipstick," show up more often in this time with songs like "Fun Doo Ah," "Pack it Up," and other songs similar in design. He also composed some blues oriented songs that differ from traditional shapes like twelve bar. The song "The Wintertime Blues," sort of leans into the realm of jazz in how it resolves its lyrical phrasing. Again he's expanded further with his country folk like stylings that show up as distinctly his, with songs like "On the Train," and "Doctor Good." With a lot of work, he finally started using a finger-picking style of playing in this era. This has allowed a stronger representation in the folk music style. The style fits well in shaping some of his newer compositions, helping to broaden his method of expression. The song, "Aspen Tree" was his first using a finger-picking style. It was soon followed by an anti-war song in, "The Cause". Diverging further into use of the DAW, he created the pieces "Summer's Fading," and "All Heading Home."

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Three very distinct changes occurred in the early 1990s that completely disrupted and altered Tom's course in life. With the passing of his Father, a substantial inheritance provided an avenue to turn from a disenchanting occupation in Resource Management. Physical problems with his spine also brought challenges and change. Being in constant pain, he opted for spine surgery with the hope for resolution of the disabling conditions it brought to life. This event brought immediate but short lived success. Two other separate coinciding events aligned to bring a third shift in life. First his wife began to play the guitar and showing an interest in music. Second was his introduction to a violinist, Sarah. With music still holding an integral part in his being, Tom continued playing at the parties within his then expanding circle of friends. He also played a couple stents in local restaurants. It was at one of these parties that he met Sarah. During that session, with this violinist accompanying him while playing his song "Grandma," something new happened. In those few elapsed moments, playing the song, Tom heard a sound having a quality with which he sought, yet had only achieved in thought. It was a special musical harmony that had previously been missing in his music.

The spark that occurred in those moments evolved over time turning to a fire that would bring with it a significant shift. While helping his wife learn to play the guitar and music in general, a situation ambiguous in nature formed in him. His own musical ability far surpassed that of his wife. Due to her rudimentary skill, she was unable to add complement to his music, yet it was in her to play with him always. A conflict grew from that situation, but to bring this point to light would likely cause even more conflict, so he retained it, leaving it to remain unspoken. His will to expand musically was being stifled. By this time Sarah had become a friend to them and the three began playing music together regularly. Over the course of a couple of years, made short, one love diminished, gradually fading, while another formed and grew. The resolution arising from the situation concluded in two couples divorcing.

Tom and Sarah began a project to record some of their music in a recording studio. During rehearsals a thought to embellish the music with the addition of Sarah's parents materialized. Chuck and Joni Metcalf, being well established musicians from the Seattle based, jazz community possessed skills that could augment their music. Months of preparation ensued. Because of geographic restrictions, due to these individual's established homes, joint rehearsals couldn't happen in the lead up to the sessions. After organizing the content to be included in the session, music charts and copyright of the material had to be completed. Having had one joint rehearsal three days prior, on December 26, 1995, the recording session produced the Compact Disc, "Frank Goes to the Zoo." The songs Tom included in this musical collection originated many years prior to this recording session. The recording brought a focused intention and some success, to two lives that were otherwise in full blown disarray.

These tumultuous times did provide abundant fodder and the musical inspiration leading to new musical creations. Two of them coming out of this period are "Them Blues Got Me" and "You Think You Know Who I Am." Although both are somewhat about relationships, one is set in a distinct blues format while the other seems a patchwork of imagery contained within a lilting melodic framework. Additional songs originating in the era are, "Me and My Mercury," "If Dreams Come True", "World Spin," and "Red Sky With the Blues."

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Times of

In the late 1970s, Tom found himself giving into the economic requirements of life. He turned away from his music and toward a viable occupation, marking an era that continued into the mid-1990s. Choosing to enter college and study in natural sciences, removed the time required to keep the music edge sharp. The personal desire for playing music however, continued. Throughout these years, as time allowed, he continued learning new music as well as writing and composing new songs. He made new musically oriented friendships in the college communities and for a brief time played in a jug band. Most of his performance situations through this era were associated with private parties.

At the terminus of earning an AS degree, he moved away from California. With his then girlfriend soon to be wife, they moved to Idaho where he enrolled in the University of Idaho, Moscow. The musical calling remained subdued, within the closet realm for the most part. The song writing and composition remained throughout this era, producing several good songs: "Living With the Wind in My Hair," "Picturing You," "Color Your Eyes," "Lipstick," and more.

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Transition to
a Private Life

On April 2nd 1976, Tom's voyage back to living a life free of military obligation began. The journey started with a drive across the nation from Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina to his former home of South Lake Tahoe, California (CA) via a brief extending zig-zag to Napa, CA where he had grown up. He found his circle of friends had matured in his absence, beginning occupations and starting families. Their innocence of youth had faded. Still he carried in his mind that agreement with his two Marine Corps buddies of joining together again to live the musician life. Prior to following the plan's fruition, there was a summer of freedom, a sort of rebirth. With music at the center of his life focus, Tom re-joined with his former music partner, one he'd met in High School. They were again living together, with many others, on a huge granite boulder strewn shoreline, in a beautiful spacious house, along the eastern side of Lake Tahoe, Nevada, a place holding a nickname, The SkyLab. The summer was one filled with parties, brunches on the back deck, playing music learning (and covering new tunes), and other very memorable high times, within budding new friendships.

This summer was marked by the U.S. Bicentennial. It also introduced the new sport we called Frisbee Golf, whereas we created a course near and through Johnson's meadow within South Lake Tahoe. For the big Bicentennial event, we offered the first annual semi-private South Lake Tahoe Open Frisbee Golf Tournament followed by the first annual gathering of the South Lake Tahoe Bicentennial Tree Frog Band. Although calling this collection of friends a band would be considered a stretch of semantic truth, it was in the least one hell of a party that offered, joy, communion, and eventually resulted in a collection of zany musical tape recordings.

By late summer, the time had come to depart and again join up with those former Marine Corps pals to begin a musicians life. Tom packed up his belongings and drove to Illinois. It was a heartbreaking trip, finding that both of his friends had committed themselves to doing things other than playing music, leaving behind their false commitment to form a band, to make music a way of life. The betrayal held an emotional significance, enforcing similar past human interfaces having a common impact. Lacking a reason to stay in Illinois, after two months he repacked and returned to South Lake Tahoe, concluding an era.

At this time life took on an unplanned course. The focus of becoming a professional musician seemed beyond reach. With the societal demands for dollars weighing heavy, the lost connections with professionally minded musically oriented people had a substantial impact. He lacked a true understanding of the path required to make music a life. Tom's musical focus was then forcibly subordinated by the struggle to find gainful employment. Music and musicianship became a past-time joy, a point of release and pacifier for true personal expression, rather than holding its previous position atop life's focus.

However, there remained the annual gathering of friends for 4th of July celebrations. The South Lake Tahoe Bicentennial Tree Frog Band continued their regular celebration with the Frisbee Golf tournament, party and recording session. Tom also continued composing new songs some specific for the annual party and others for the sake of music. He became a closet musician, singer song-writer.

During this era, Tom composed several strong songs. The more significant of these being: "Eagle," "Canoeing on the L," Every Day Lights Up with the Sun," and "I Love You," along with several more.

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Marine Corps

In 1973, Tom signed up to serve in the U.S. Marine Corps. This was a turning point for him and his music. Life in the military took away personal freedoms while offering: employment, educational opportunity, social structure and travel. While the opportunity for steady employment and education were positive attributes, the overall social structure was quite repressive due to the primitive ignorant ways embodied in the personnel within this unique hierarchical military structure. Opportunities for travel also proved out as quite limited. After initial training as a jet engine mechanic, Tom settled in with his assigned air wing squadron to serve in that function. His quiet natured mannerism hindered a growing social life but his music somewhat allowed friendships to gradually develop. He made a few enduring friendships and others that might endure, had communication connections been established.

Having formed two solid musically oriented friendships, together and individually they began composing new songs. This small cohort found a bond, helping them to grow musically while serving out the remainder of their contractual obligation to the military. This period is marked by an unusual dichotomy. Musically the experience was powerfully rewarding. Song writing became an ever present force in thought and in actuality. The desire to establish this art form as a way of life influenced large segments of time. All the while, the repression of free will brought on while enduring military service seemed crushing to Tom's spirit and psyche. However this era allowed Tom's writing several good songs, "Grandma," "Freaky Fred," "Long Long Way," "Where Do You Go (When You're Down and Out)" "Town of Blowing Snow" and many others. It also provided a learning experience that could never be duplicated in another type of setting.

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First Songs

In 1971 Tom wrote his first piece of original music along with its lyrics. Having been influenced by the folk and psychedelic music of the 1960's he was inspired to write topical songs about what he understood as threats to life, living and the continuance of humanity in a modern world. Being a high school dropout he lacked education and exposure to literature, thus had a sketchy understanding of meter, rhyme, poetry and language in general. Yet he was able to convey his thought into a musical lyric in his first song called "Man's Progress." It is a look at the destructive interface between man and nature. It was shortly followed by another similarly based song named "Where Will You Be Tomorrow." These two songs are quite simple in a folk genre, a form which seems to be somewhat held to, to this day.

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Guitar 1966

1966 also brought the guitars into Tom's life. Rock & Roll music was the rage and several of his friends were playing electric guitars. It took several attempts for him to actually gain possession of a guitar. Finally his father got a used acoustical guitar for him, though it was in poor condition and hard to play. The action was extremely high thus mastering the instrument was near impossible. In fact playing it in general was difficult and discouraging. He was given guitar lessons, taught by his father's friend, country music was his way, something Tom had no interest in. Lessons didn't continue very long due to this.

By 1967 he had got an electric guitar but had no amplifier to play it through, thus it too was of little use and provided little satisfaction. Thus the music ventures of a young Tom were stifled by the things beyond his control. He had no money to overcome and as a middle school kid, living in a very rural setting, there was virtually no opportunity to get paying work.

In 1970, a birthday gift of a fine shining new Yamaha acoustic guitar arrived in his hand. By this time the will to play had somewhat subsided, still he picked it up and eventually began playing songs. He started playing with a friend and they started playing some of the pop songs of that time period. Together they started singing harmony with the songs they selected.

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In 1966, Tom put the clarinet down, for his preference to sing in the school choir. Singing in a choir modified and enhanced his understanding of harmony, as he had earlier in life through practical application rather than actually learning the theory of harmony. He found it joyful, participating in the choir. This experience brought music closer to the core of his life experience.

Mid way through the school year 1962 - 1963, 5th grade, Tom began playing the clarinet. The experience began his education of music through its written form. Learning notes, the staff, sharps and flats, clefs and more. It was quite rudimentary and he always felt himself inadequate at reading sheet music. He'd never understood that ascending notes went from A, through G, then repeats, because the teaching method showed only that the staff was designed so that the lines of it equated to Every Good Boy Does Fine, E, G, B, D & F, while the spaces were similarly designed so that the spaces spelled face, F, A, C & E. Still to this day he lacks a solid grasp of notes on a staff intuitively. However, today Tom understands that there are circumstances now having a name, learning disabilities, that creates an interference with his ability to gain written information in all forms. Regardless, he found that he was pretty good at memorization, and memorization became his tactic for success rather than reading the score from paper.

The first year Tom was in middle school, he took a class in "band", which was in fact a precursor to marching band. Having had a year away from playing the clarinet, combined with the inability to fluently read musical score, it was difficult for him to find success. He spent the entire school year in the back last position playing third string clarinet.

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The Early Days

Tom's practical music experience began somewhere near 1959 (give or take a year). I am unsure of his age at that time but we know it started with singing in the Church Childrens Choir. His Mother happened to be the children's choir director so it was natural that he would want to be a part of that, as a young boy in 3rd or 4th grade. Tom really didn't want to sing the parts designated, causing some conflict. His mind and adolescent voice was attracted to the soprano parts, yet his instruction was to sing the bass part. The experience gave him some understanding of singing harmony through practical application rather than an understanding of the theory in harmony. He found it a fun experience, however; the Church Childrens Choir didn't last long, something not really understood to this day.

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