Cooler Nights – even cooler music!
September 16, 2014

Some Fall Dancin’ Jivin’ and general good times…

fall sailing

fall sailing

So, somehow the summer went flying by in its usual chaos, and we are suddenly scrambling back into our fall routines and getting misty eyed about the beach days and sailing trips we didn’t take….Ha!  Regrets are for mere mortals…we must embrace the moment and find out inspiration in living every day to the fullest, even if they are getting shorter!  I actually, I love this time of year – I am comfortable, cool and sleeping well.  The fall sailing is some of the best with light NW breezes and deep azure skies.

The fall music is looking pretty fair as well.  The Hadacol Bouncers will be playing regular monthly gigs at Local Sprouts, at the Pressroom in NH and at the Swing Stomp at Acoustic Artisans. See appearances for details.  I will also be indulging my love of Bebop piano with several trio appearances at Local Sprouts.

Unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day, a week and a month, so the Lay-Z-Gait Band is taking some time off. Hopefully, it will return – re-energized and with some new material in the spring.

I also continue to play every Sunday with Sean Mencher at the Local Sprouts brunch.  So gather your apples, bust out your flannels, grease up the snowblower and don’t forget to get out and support live music!

What Happened to June??
July 7, 2014

Noble CharliesChicky, Tom and Jed onboard the Schooner Stephen Taber in June, 2014.

Hi all…Yeah -June happened and then some…there has been a ton of great weather, fantastic gigs, some time on the water, and the overall craziness that is summer in Maine.

Some News:

This short film, that Tom performed and composed the music for, along with the help of Jack Devereaux on fiddle, has been chosen by the prestigious, international Maine Media Workshops as one of the winners of the ‘SEASONS’ contest – it has been presented with an Honorable Mention. Thanks to Sharyn and Paul Bruise at WonderDog films for including us in their project! 

Continuing a strong  connection with the Schooner Stephen Taber, Tom, along with Sean Mencher and the Rhythm Kings, entertained the salty captains, crew and fans at the after party of the annual Great Schooner Race in Rockland, ME.

Tom made it into the newspaper while attending and performing at a fundraiser for one of the schools he teaches at – 317 Main in Yarmouth.  See the links below for details:

The month of July is packed with gigs by the various groups that Tom plays with – see appearances for more details and enjoy this glorious weather whilst we are able!
The Merry Merry Month-o-May!
April 28, 2014

Hi all – Well March was a lion on both ends and April felt like we had a Tiger by the tail, but somehow, spring is finally here and May is just around the corner…Whew! Even when it is cold and rainy, it is nice to see no more ice and snow, and have the temperature be above 45! Speaking of things heating up – the performance schedule looks pretty full right now for May and the months beyond.

There are still a few spots left on the annual music cruise on the Stephen Taber, June 6 – 11. Join myself, Chicky Stoltz, Jed Kriegel and Captn/ Noah Barnes on the oldest and handsomest schooner in the fleet for a week of sailing, food, great music and classic boating adventures. This is our 5th annual trip and it is bound to be one of the best, so come on aboard!Taber


The Lay-Z-Gait band will play two more Wednesday Swing Stomps at Acoustic Artisans on April 30th and May 21st. On May 11 they will travel to the Stone Mountain Arts Center for the annual craft fair – the music will be going from 10 – 3.  On May 17th they are back on Portland to play an intimate show at Jay York’s Last Church on the Left along with featured artist Jon Langford.

The Hadacol Bouncers have a merry month ahead of them too…On May 2 they kick off First Friday with a swing dance at the Woodford’s Club in Portland. They then play a funeral in Cape Elizabeth in true New Orleans style on May 3. They play a  Swing Stomps at Acoustic Artisans  on May 14th, followed by an afternoon/evening concert at Inn By the Sea on May 25th. They finish up the month with a show at their home club – Local Sprouts, on May 31.

Tom Whitehead’s piano trio will return to  Local Sprouts on May 24th with special guest, bassist Nate Therrien along with Don Whitney on drums. Nate is a multi-talented bassist, composer/educator from the New Hampshire Seacoast so you should take this opportunity to see him live in our hometown of Portland.

Tom continues his fun-filled work with Sean Mencher and his Rhythm Kings, playing most Sundays for brunch at  Local Sprouts. They will also be appearing at The Dogfish Cafe on May 10.

Well – there are probably a few more that will pop get out and support live music – remember, it doesn’t happen with out you and your support!  And, oh yeah…I am getting fired up to get our boat in the water…SOON!  So see you on the water or at your local watering hole in the near future! DSCN1202

WOW…MARCH? ….uh, yeah it is.
March 11, 2014

Hi all – January/February went by fast, at least in cyber-world. I know we all can not really stand the sight of any more snow or cold – but it is March in Maine and it always snows for the boat show or St. Paddy’s Day – just to remind us where we live. I am finding the hopeful feeling of Spring and once I start thinking about varnish and paint for the sailboat – it can’t be too far away.

Over February break, I had some fun putting together music for a short film and I hope to be doing more of this type of thing.  A fun collaborative project and very satisfying…check out the short video.. Another milestone was getting the very talented Joseph Bacica to repair the old upright piano, “Thumper” – currently in residence at Local Sprouts. It sounds so much better and will hopefully hold pitch longer…

The Lay Z Gait band continues to play for the Swing/Stomp every other Wednesday; will be appearing at the Merrifield Farm for Maple Sugar Sunday; and has some fun gigs in May.  The Hadocol Bouncers are playing once a month at Sprouts and have some exciting shows coming up in May and July. Sean Mencher and the Rhythm Kings are hitting the brunch every Sunday and are gearing up for the summer season. I am also playing once a month as a piano trio for some straight ahead jazz at Sprouts.

Teaching keeps me busy during the day, continuing to work at Waynflete, 317 and UNE.  A new jazz club has formed at UNE and we are hoping this is a good sign for more student involvement in the future.

Remember – live music does not really happen without YOU!  Spring is in the air – get yer butts off the sofa – turn off the TV – go hear some great live music and meet new friends and smell the fresh air..Hope to see you out and about!  Tom

Whacky Winter Wonderland
January 7, 2014

Happy New Year!  2014 is only a few days old and already things have been pretty exciting!  You can always count on Maine weather to be unexpected, but throw in some jet stream variations brought on by global warming (yes – I believe in that…) and wow! We have gone from blizzard, to tropical storm and back to below zero in just a week.

The music this year is going to be equally unpredictable and very exciting.  I continue to play regularly on piano & accordion with the great Sean Mencher as a part of The Rhythm Kings.  Most every Sunday we are performing from 11:00 – 2:00 at the fabulous Local Sprouts on Congress street in Portland. We often also play the second saturday of every month at the Dogfish Bar & Grill on Free Street in Portland.

The Lay-Z-Gait band continues swinging and twanging their way around the Portland scene.  They play every other Wednesday (starting january 8th) at Acoustic Artisans in Portland from 7:30 – 10:00.  This informal gathering is turning into quite the scene with guest performers, swing dancers and happy listeners hanging out on the plush couches in this stunning space. You can also find members of Lay-Z-Gait every Tuesday night at Otto Pizza on Congress, playing at the end of the bar from 9:30-11:00.  On February 1st the band will travel northwest to entertain the fine folks at the Sangerville Grange, in East Sangerville, ME.  On February 15th they will be pitching a swingin’ barn dance at The Barn at Flanagan Farm in Buxton, ME. (See appearances for more details)

The jazz piano night at Local Sprouts has continued to grow, and you can enjoy his intimate evening of piano jazz every third Saturday from 6:30 – 9:30 – the next show is January 18th.  And lastly, but definitely not least – the Hadocol Bouncers are going to be back at Local Sprouts on January 25th, pumping out the irresistible traditional New Orleans Jazz. The food is great and there is room for creative dancing!

The weather might be cold and unpredictable, but you can rely on our fantastic live music scene in and around Portland to keep you warm, inspired and entertained as we enjoy these winter months.  Hope to see you all out there – somewhere!  Best, Tom

Try to Remember…what happened to September!
October 11, 2013
fall sailing

fall sailing

Hi all….due to many forces, September somehow happened, along with the end of August and suddenly I woke up and it is Oct 11!!  I was beginning to wonder why the leaves all looked so pretty…There is plenty happening on the performing and educating front -the  big news is that I have been teaching Jazz History at the University of New England – what a blast!  And, YouTube has totally changed the way that course can be taught – amazing live footage of my idols and other iconic figures in jazz that I never knew existed. I continue giving private lessons on piano and guitar at the Waynflete School and at 317 Main Community Music Center, giving me 39 private students each week – they keep me on my toes!

Lay- Z-Gait is saddlin’ up for some great shows starting with a co-production with Gillian Davis and the Portland Swing Project at Bayside Bowl on October 25th. They will also be playing every other Wednesday at Acoustic Artisans, starting on the 16th and 23rd and then alternating after that.

A new project, a New Orleans style jazz band called the Hadocol Bouncers have been having some fun gigs and will be doing more.  It is a joint project between myself and Peter Dunphy.  We have been able to work with some of the finest and most venerable traditional jazz players in Maine, along with some talented new comers.  Check us out at Local Sprouts on Oct. 26th.  There is also a potential show at the newly renovated Empire club on November 23 – stay tuned for details.

The Jazz Piano project has found a home at Local Sprouts.  Thumper, the piano, has come to live there and I am playing Bebop and straight ahead jazz once a month on every third Saturday.  On Oct. 19th I’ll be joined by Chris Sprague on bass and Don Whitney on snare, and I’m sure other guests will show up. The music runs from 7:00PM until 10:00PM.

Local Sprouts is also home to the weekly jazz and Americana Brunch hosted by Sean Mencher and features Kris Day on Bass, Tom Whitehead on Piano and Accordion and Dave Wakefield on Tenor sax and harmonica.  Come by most Sundays from 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM, for some great live music and awesome food.



Wow! July and August racing by…but happily!
August 5, 2013

Yes – July was a fantastic burn and August keeps getting better! Four bands!  Hope to see you at one of these:  Lay Z Gait is back in the saddle and sounding better than ever; I am thrilled to be working with Sean M. and his Rhythm Kings; don’t miss the debut of the Hadacol Bouncers –this is New Orleans Jazz at its finest; and the WurliBird show at Blue will be a smokin’ stew of bebop and soul jazz.

Friday, August 2nd – Sean Mencher & his Rhythm Kings kick off the Port City Swing Jam!  A two week festival of dancing and swing music –  At Acoustic Artisans – Art Walk Outdoor set – 6:30, Dance Lesson – 8:00, Dance – 8:30 – 9:30. No Cover – Donations Accepted

Saturday, August 3rd – Lay Z Gait at Dam Blues Fest, w/ special guest Joyce Anderson! –  (We’re on at 4:30ish!)

Tuesday, August 6th – The Hadacol Bouncers play at Local Sprouts as part of the continuing Port City Swing Jam. 7:00 – No Cover-– Donations Accepted.

Friday, August 9th – The Hadacol Bouncers plat at Acoustic Artisans as part of the continuing Port City Swing Jam. 7:00 – No Cover-– Donations Accepted.

Sunday, August 11th – Sean Mencher & his Rhythm Kings play brunch at Local Sprouts 11:00 – 2:00. No Cover-– Donations Accepted

Sunday, August 11th – Lay Z Gait plays at Bayside Bowl  as part of the continuing Port City Swing Jam. Cover – 5$

Thursday, August 15th – Lay Z Gait plays a Swing Dance at Acoustic Artisans –  7:30. No Cover – Donations Accepted

Friday, August 16th – Lay Z Gait play the Scarborough Summerfest! 7:00 – 9:00

Monday, August 19th – Lay Z Gait plays a private party on the Songo River Queen in Naples.

Thursday, August 22th – Lay Z Gait plays a Swing Dance at Acoustic Artisans – 7:30. No Cover – Donations Accepted

Friday, August 23rd – The Hadacol Bouncers play a daytime BBQ at the Horizons in Brunswick – 11:00 – 2:00.

Friday, August 23rd – Tom Whitehead plays piano jazz with a trio at Rudi’s  in Portsmouth, NH – 6:00 – 10:00.  Great Food, No cover.

Sunday, August 25th – Sean Mencher & his Rhythm Kings play a private party in New Hampshire…

..and finally –

Friday, August 31st – WurliBird returns to Blue with a tribute to Lee Morgan! Hear the entire album of “Sidewinder” and more…featuring Tom Whitehead on keys, Zach Lange on Trumpet, Nick Mainela on Tenor Sax and Brett Gallo on drums.




June is Bustin’ out!
June 14, 2013

Wow!  Summer has started with a bang.  The kids are getting out of school and I have just returned from my annual trip aboard the Schooner Stephen Taber.  There is nothing to compare with the company, the live music, the amazing food and some fantastic sailing aboard one of the oldest, traditional sailing vessels still earning her living on the Maine Coast. I roll the memories over and over in my mind like a fine single malt whisky because I know they need to last me an entire year until we can do it all again.   Here’s to the Barnes family and all of the fine people who make that trip such a warm reality every year.  I highly recommend this trip, and any other trip aboard the Taber to anyone who wants to have a once in a life-time, innovative experience that will stick to your ribs like Anna’s best beef stew and Newfi Rolls!

So I am pitched from the deck of the Taber right back into the crazy life of a working musician.  On Saturday the 15th, I am rocking out with Sean Mencher at a private party, then Sunday the 16th I’ll be playing some swinging Jazz with the Bellamy Jazz Band onboard another fine vessel – The Songo River Queen, as part of the Maine Blues Festival that runs every year on Father’s Day – so I’ll be celebrating that too with my wonderful family.  Next Saturday, the 22nd, we have a fun, return engagement at the Big Easy with Jimmy and the Soul Cats.  This is a fantastic club, with a big dance floor, so don’t miss it.

Keep an eye out for some great swing dance adventures coming up in July and early August and for the debut of a new jazz band project called the Hadacol Bouncers! I am teaming up with Peter Dunphy from the Bellamy Jazz band to form a small band that can play in the street or in any club and will keep your toes tappin’ and your feet sliding to the beat.  Down the road on August 3, the Lay Z Gait band will be having their debut at the Dam Blues Fest in Damariscotta, ME.

So stay tuned and get out and enjoy as much live music as you can this summer.  It will be over befoe you know it.  Best, Tom

Outa my brain on the 5/15….
May 15, 2013

Funny, but every May 15 those words from the Who song, “Bell Boy” off Quadraphenia come racing into my brain – (even though I think old Pete was singing about a train).  Summer is around the corner, and everyone is doing their pre-summer dance – schedules, camps, vacations, boats, moorings, weddings – you name it.  It will all happen and then suddenly, we’ll be watching the leaves fall.  Well, I’m gonna do my best to enjoy every second of it and play as much music and do as much sailing as possible.  Speaking of sailing – the annual musical voyage on the Stephen Taber is set for June 9 – 13.  Myself, Chicky Stoltz and Jed Kreigle jam every night with the Captn. and crew and the rest of the time we are eating gourmet meals and sailing the beautiful schooner to the outer reaches of Penobscot Bay – fun times!  There is probably still room, so if you are in need, come along!  The rest of May is also going to bring some great music – on Saturday the 18th I’ll be playing a benefit with the Bellamy Jazz band at 11:30 (AM!), followed by a Lay Z Gait trio show at a block party (private). The following Saturday the 25th will bring another show with Bellamy from 7:00 – 9:00 at the Union Church in North Windham. For more info go to the following site   On Thursday May 30th, we’ll be having a great night at Blue with the amazing Joyce Anderson. The following weekend, on June 8th, Lay-Z-Gait will be playing an outdoor, day time show as part of the LLBean summer series.  This will run from 11:00 – 3:00 at the Paddlesports Expo, located at the LL Bean Boat landing facility, Lower Flying Point,in Freeport, ME.  After that, the previously mentioned Taber trip happens and summer is officially launched!  More details will follow and as usual, thanks for supporting live music and I hope to see you at some of the shows.  Best, Tom

May 1, 2013

Come and celebrate the rites of spring by supporting some great live music and dancing with reckless abandon!  This weekend features two great opportunities with a great Swing quartet on Friday night and a killer line up of two great bands on Saturday – you can’t help but have some fun.

The fine breezes and warm sunshine have put me in a boating mood and the paint, oil and varnish is getting applied to the sailboat in hopes of a mid-May launch.  It is a great feeling to know that he snow tires can definitely come off…see you at a show or out on the water!  TW

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