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25$ Vinyl Record Delivered by Release Date Oct. 13


$50 You get the Vinyl Record 1 Month Prior to Release Date


$100+ (add donation if you wish) — $100 Plus  Personalized Signed Vinyl One Month Prior to Release Date

Thank you very much in advance.

I’ll post updates on the recording for you here on my website and on Facebook, so you can keep up with all the progress.

Adam Hook – Soaked in Sound

“… His voice, laced with the earth he walks upon, drives the album; sculpting each track into a gritty representation of a life well lived …”

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Tom VandenAvond walks a path blazed by songwriting pioneers before him. He travels from town to town playing for audiences that may not know who he is at the beginning of the night, but leave fans once the last chord is strummed. “Wreck of a Fine Man” is covered in the dust from the long days spent on the road with his guitar and dog as his only companions. Tom lives what he writes and the latest release solidifies this fact. If you haven’t heard Tom VandenAvond before, think of an updated Woody Guthrie, traveling the country playing music and leaving wonderment in his wake. His voice, laced with the earth he walks upon, drives the album; sculpting each track into a gritty representation of a life well lived.

Each Tom VandenAvond record is like the next chapter in his autobiography. The standout on the album is, “Busted Knuckles.” VandenAvond writes about fellow traveling songwriters that are anchored to the everyday struggles, but have an overwhelming need to roam the country; busted knuckles their only souvenir. Pick up the record and enjoy.

Trigger – Saving Country Music

“… Tom VandenAvond is one of these wheel guys … everything seems to revolve around them. They are the trunk from which so much other music grows …”

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Tom VandenAvond is one of these wheel guys. James Hunnicutt is another. They may not be the flashiest of artists, but when you sit back and study the music, you find these wheel guys are essential to it in so many ways; how everything seems to revolve around them. They are the trunk from which so much other music grows. Trace the veins of the music and you find that their songs and work create foundations and inspiration for so many others.

Just in recent memory VandenAvond’s name could be found on albums by Willy Tea Taylor and Scott McDougall. Some will tell you Larry & His Flask are all grown up from the underground roots world, but here they are once again backing Tom up, just like they did on his last album. The weighty respect other performers and songwriters have for VandenAvond illustrates just how influential his music is.

VandenAvond is a pure songwriter. As much as people love to babble on about how songwriting is such a noble art and pat their favorite artists on the back for being so great at it, few delve into the inner workings of the craft like Tom VandenAvond. Comparisons are made to Dylan because of VandenAvond’s voice. Artists comparisons are rarely fair to either side, yet this one is understandable because just like Dylan, VandenAvond is a writer that sings, not a singer that writes. When it feels like the music is getting in the way of the story, this can be a symptom of an upper stratosphere songwriter who it sometimes takes interpretations of their songs from other artists to make their work accessible to the wider public.

Luckily though, VandeAvond had the ridiculous talent pool of Larry & His Flash backing him up on “Wreck of a Fine Man.” This allows his compositions and brushy voice to be bolstered with magnificent arrangement and instrumentation, displayed no better than on the title track for this album that I truly believe is one of the best songs so far this year. The song “Wreck of a Fine Man” rises to that level from the combination of excellent lyricism and structure from VandenAvond, and the gorgeous harmonic sighs and ascending string lines in the chorus that create a musical mood unmatched.

Another marquee track was “Busted Knuckles.” What VandenAvond does so well is to stencil broken down characters you can believe in when their stories are told through his shaggy voice, and he creates lyrical lines that he calls back on throughout a song to mold a catchy, revolving theme, like he also does in “But, Anyway Now I Gotta Go” and “Where They Say You’ve Been Livin'”. Another great track was “Meet Me At Weber’s Deck” where regardless of your knowledge or participation in the annual summer ritual outside of St. Paul, MN, you can relate to the story of a place to feel comfort and camaraderie.

Even diehard VandenAvond fans must admit that it’s difficult to characterize his music as accessible. He is a hard sell. This isn’t helped by the slight amount of muddiness in this recording, just like some of VandenAvond’s other albums. Tom does not have a stark voice, and doesn’t use sharp lines or a consistent cadence in his phrasing that people are used to. You must get over that and understand this is his style, and that it benefits the music and the broken down themes he sings about. But the recordings can be a little frustrating to the ear, especially because Tom’s words and Larry & His Flaskss arrangements and performances are so spectacular, you want them right out there and clear for you to enjoy. I appreciate the lo-fi approach, but just a little more clarity might have awakened some of the dynamics of these tracks and created a more approachable work.

But the substance is all here, and I can’t help to think of what an impressive song catalog VandenAvond is amassing, which could be pilfered in years to come by bands looking for that deep soul that only the most serious of songwriters can evoke, while at the same time challenging his current songwriting peers to match his substance and depth, promoting a healthier, more vibrant music world than it would rather be without him, for now and into the future.

Trigger – The Story Behind Tom VandenAvond’s Wreck of a Fine Man

“… ‘Wreck Of A Fine Man’ seemed to be the best salve for the old soul struggling with the short-sightedness of today’s society …”

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Even if he never made a dime doing it, even if nobody ever doted on him for it, Tom VandenAvond would still be out there traveling around the country playing songs for whoever he could get to listen. He’s unique to the music world in how there appears to be no ego. Instead the quiet, raspy-voiced troubadour is driven by the simple urge to share stories.

VandenAvond, whose originally from Green Bay, Wisconsin, lived in and around Austin, TX for about 8 years before moving to the small town of Oakdale in interior California to “be amongst the cowboys” with fellow songwriter Willy Tea Taylor. “Willy had an airstream open,” Tom explains.

Songs become timeless by having the uncanny knack of feeling relevant no matter when they are performed. The title track from Tom’s latest album “Wreck Of A Fine Man” falls into that lot. Last week when it was announced Darius Rucker would be the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, “Wreck Of A Fine Man” seemed to be the best salve for the old soul struggling with the short-sightedness of today’s society.

“I was sitting around one afternoon, and I think I took a nap or something, but I was thinking about Hank Williams and if he was still alive.” Tom explained to me before his set at the Cattlemen’s Saloon in the small town of Rogue River, Oregon last Wednesday. “I think I actually had a dream that he was still alive, and I was kind of thinking about what his life would be like, if people would accept him today. I pictured him living outside of Nashville a little bit, out in the woods you know, kind of keeping to himself. So that was a big inspiration for that song.”

“Wreck Of A Fine Man” mentions the Ryman Auditorium, aka the “Country Music Mother Church” that was the home of The Grand Ole Opry for many years and where Hank Williams made his hay. VandenAvond went on to explain that Ol’ Hank wasn’t the only iconic country singer to inspire the song. James Hand, who has his own album Mighty Lonesome Man set for release on October 16th, also was an inspiration for the song.

“He reminds me of Hank Williams. If Hank Williams hadn’t of died, he would be James Hand. I used to see James Hand every Thursday in Austin at the Saxon Pub. I looked forward to those days. It helped me and my buddies through some hard times listening to that beautiful music.”

“Wreck Of A Fine Man” was featured in Saving Country Music “Best Songs of 2012 So Far” and barring the Mayan Apocalypse, will be on the end of year list as well.

Mike Morrison – American Roots UK

“…Tom Vandenavond is one of the most talented singer songwriters of this twenty first century and probably has a lot in common with the great John Prine at his very best…”

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Tom Vandenavond is one of the most talented singer songwriters of this twenty first century and probably has a lot in common with the great John Prine at his very best (his early days?) but this is due in the main to the very strong similarities in their vocals. Tom probably has more variety in his instrumentation and the characters in his songs, which are not shamed in that esteemed company, generally inhabit a different area to Prine’s. He is a man who if there is any justice will eventually achieve the same legendary status as Prine; there is still time and he has the talent! This is his sixth album, with each subsequent release generally surpassing it’s predecessor for quality. So, does this album continue that upward trend? You bet it does! The tremendous songs are well written and all tell evocative tales, with Tom’s melodically rasping vocals being perfect for getting every little nuance out of the songs. The varied instrumentation and arrangements cannot be faulted nor can the tremendous melodies or the playing, all adding up to an album that in my house and car is never out of the stereo. This is his second consecutive album on which the backing band has been that tremendous roots outfit ‘Larry and his Flask.’ Such is the esteem in which this hugely talented musician is held that the band manage to restrain their usual ebullient selves in favour of supporting these excellent ‘story’ songs.

The songs are predominately weighted in favour of tales about ordinary unnoticed, unremarkable people that nonetheless have their own tale to tell. Their lives are, if not exactly lived on the wrong side of the tracks, certainly bordering that area and there is not much light in their lives although, as in life, there are a few little oasis of brightness to balance things out. Several of these tremendous songs relate tales of a travelling musicians life and the high price paid for the ‘freedom’ that goes with it, whilst even some of those that are not overtly about musicians could actually be related to that lifestyle. We are not talking about the cossetted life of so called ‘stars’ either, more the itinerant performer that believes in his own musings and suffers the hardships that sticking to his guns entails! There are a lot of simple if heartfelt emotions attached, as if the character has reached a crossroad in his life and wants to get some of his experiences off his chest. Thanks to the bands restrained, atmospheric playing and Vandenavond’s emotive vocals and writing, huge sympathy for the subject is achieved. I found myself at times feeling incredibly sorry for the characters who just didn’t have the wherewithal to lift themselves out of the situations in which they find themselves. Many of those situations are ones that most have been in at times but you just know that these people have given up or are close to giving up on any hopes they may have had. His writing seems able to express emotions without being over philosophical, more a simple telling rather than overcooking his experiences!

The album opens with Postmark West Baton Rouge, a beautifully atmospheric song with lovely chiming guitars and a well balanced instrumentation that blends everything beautifully on Tom’s paean to his lost ‘Creole Belle.’ This is followed by the title track “Wreck of a Fine Man,” a tremendous song about the fall from grace of a broken down singer who finds solace of sorts in the bottle. With the choral voices in the background, the banjo and remainder of the atmospheric instrumentation the song takes on an even sadder haunting feel. There are further tales of lost love, such as “Lost Claim” with chiming banjo and haunting dobro, followed by the accordion and banjo driven “Where They Say You Been Livin'”. “Pawned All My Freedom” with its gorgeous dobro sound is actually a little lightness with it’s tale of found love, then it’s back to unrequited love with “Them Travelers,” with its ‘barrelhouse piano’ and easy loping tempo. I could go on even more but ultimately there is no slacking in quality and every song is a mini adventure in the lives of the protagonists.

Whilst very few of the songs even get close to mid tempo it is a tremendously varied album with the instrumentation being well thought out and giving plenty of variety to the sound. The only slight concern is the recording quality. I noticed that someone else questioned the almost homemade feel and like them I’m pretty sure that if these tremendous songs had been recorded in a quality studio we would be listening to a five star rated album. Sometimes that homemade feel is a good thing, but with this quality of music it really deserves to have an almost pristine sound. Of course, it could be a case of Tom’s budget not stretching that far which just about sums up the modern record industry whereby ‘stars’ can be manufactured but real talent has to struggle. For all that, this is getting very close to being a great album and I’m pretty sure it will figure strongly in my 2012 album of the year list.

James Carlson: Philadelphia Indie Music

“… more like bonfire shindigs with good pals, beautiful women, fiery gulps of Mason jar moonshine, and deep pulls on roll-your-own cigarettes… “

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It is no secret that country music has really gone downhill in recent years, both in the mainstream and underground alike. In fact, many of the late, great progenitors of the movement – Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Woodie Guthrie, Waylon Jennings, and Merle Haggard, to name a few – would undoubtedly roll over in their graves if only for a moment they were subjected to what passes as country music these days. Like a piece of depreciated real estate, no one wants to live anywhere within close proximity to modern country music anymore, save for a few brave souls scattered about the globe who have dedicated themselves to rescuing the genre.

One of those brave souls is singer/songwriter Tom VandenAvond, whose latest release on Hillgrass Bluebilly Records “You Oughta Know Me By Now” proves just how far he’s willing to go to do his part for country and other roots-related forms of music. This soft-spoken, cool-mannered, scruffy-faced Texan is all trucker caps and flannel shirts, and his songs somehow sound the way he looks.

At present, stepping forth from the vast shadows of the old country greats and into the light of today’s country, we have bands and singer/songwriters such as Austin Lucas, The Sixtyniners, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, Hank III (the very grandson of Hank Williams, Sr. himself), Possessed by Paul James, The Devil Makes Three, and of course Tom VandenAvond. Hell, even in the place of sub-categorical country artists whose styles strayed more into the realms of bluegrass, Appalachian folk and Americana, like Earl Scruggs and Dock Boggs, we now have Phillip Roebuck, One Man Banjo, Royer, and The Dad Horse Experience. As such, it is important that we celebrate these artists; after all, it is because of them that important, meaningful and worthwhile country music and other roots styles didn’t perish along with their originators. So, even more than an album review, that’s what this piece is: a celebration of Tom VandenAvond and his contribution to country and roots music so far.

Tom’s songs are as real and down-to-earth as the patrons that populate the dive bars he frequents. Indeed they are as potent as the shots of liquor he throws back, as bittersweet as the beer chasers that follow, and as muddy as the cups of coffee that no doubt serve as so many early morning remedies. His sound doesn’t just possess the spirit of VandenAvond himself but that of Texas as well. All such comparisons aside, it is quite simply a sound that is rustic and romantic, gritty and honest and raw, with a bit of alt-country twang and folky balladry. And between his smoky, mellow vocals and a little crooning, the stripped-down notes and chords of VandenAvond’s acoustic guitar and the combined instrumentation of the backing band, great songs such as “Rustbelt,” “The Landlady,” and “Dear Dirty Dublin” are born. Also worth a mention are the album’s opening track “Knights Ferry,” the title track “You Oughta Know Me By Now,” an upbeat Spanish number titled “Vacilando” (which literally translates into hesitating), and the closing track “Even the Olives are Bleedin’.”

In a way Tom VandenAvond’s songs are of the sort one might hear playing on a barroom jukebox at two o’ clock in the morning, last call having been announced, as the last few tendrils of cigarette smoke drift up into the dimly set light fixtures, a tired couple shuffles through the last few drunken steps of a slow dance out on the floor, and the remaining whiskey is sipped from tumblers and beer drained from bottles. They are also the sorts of songs one might hear on the drive home after leaving the bar at two-thirty in the morning, emanating from the old, battered speakers of an equally old and battered Chevy, while the early morning scenery goes by in a blur outside, and the country road goes on like a winding ribbon of asphalt to the horizon. ‘Course, he also writes and plays the occasional foot-tappin’, hand-clappin’ number, with the all energy and excitement of just starting out for the night, the winding down portion of it all a seemingly distant eventuality…more like bonfire shindigs with good pals, beautiful women, fiery gulps of Mason jar moonshine, and deep pulls on roll-your-own cigarettes than the former scenario.

“You Oughta Know Me By Now” is Tom VandenAvond’s fifth full-length album to date, after a self-titled release, “A Gambler’s Prayer,” “A Broken Home Companion,” and “The Right Time.” Truth of the matter is, the self-titled album, for which VandenAvond had The Weary Boys as a backing band, was his courageous first step out into the scene, and it remains a fan favorite to this day. “You Oughta Know Me By Now,” however, for which he had Larry & His Flask as a backing band, may just be Tom VandenAvond at his very best. Then again, he is also at his best on the two songs he contributed to Hillgrass Bluebilly’s two-disc tribute to Hank Williams and Leadbelly, “Hiram & Huddie.” And his accomplishments as a singer/songwriter don’t stop there, as he made an appearance in M.A. Littler’s film “The Folk Singer,” along with John Konrad Wert (Possessed by Paul James), Scott H. Biram, Ghostwriter, and Reverend Deadeye.

At present it is my understanding that a tour is being planned for Tom VandenAvond and singer/songwriter Soda. I for one will be checking the locations and dates in hopes that he will hit the East Coast and pass through Philadelphia in doing so.

VOTE! Wreck of a Fine Man nominated for Independent Music Award

Tom’s latest album Wreck of a Fine Man was recently nominated for the 12th Annual Independent Music Awards in the Americana category. This is the second time Tom has been nominated. His previous album You Oughta Know Me By Now was nominated for the 10th Annual awards as an Alt Country album.

VOTE FOR TOM! Yes, you can vote for Tom to win the audience award! Do it HERE at the IMA Vox Pop Jukebox. You can vote only once. Deadline to vote is Friday July 19, 2013 at midnight. You can see a full list of nominees here.

Tom answered some questions in a Q&A for the IMAs a while back … and the answers are enjoyable:

Who is sitting in your audience? Cowboys, Punk Rockers, Teenagers and Old Timers are in my audience. Drunkards, Stoners, and Straights. Women and the Mens.
Are there any songs you wish you wrote? “Abandoned Love” by Bob Dylan
Do you have any backstage rituals? No rituals…it’s music not baseball.

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