As most of you readers know by now, I really enjoy interviewing people for the first time. Chatting with someone who’s music or talent touches me in some way is always a thrill for me and this week’s musician is a perfect example. His name is Tom Pirozzoli and I reached him at home in Goshen, New Hampshire, on Dec. 16. He had sent me a copy of his latest CD “Reckon by the Light” and it was when I checked the liner notes that I discovered that he was not only a singer/songwriter but also an artist. He painted the cover illustration on the album.

What I heard when I played it sent me back


Q: I’ve got to say, you are one helluva story teller! I’m so impressed by “Reckon by the Light,” it’s wonderful.
Pirozzoli: It’s been getting very good reports from people; we worked really hard on this. Willy (Porter, the album’s producer and quest artist) worked so hard on it; he was relentless in making it right. I think one of the most difficult tracks to produce was the “Heart of Love” cut because I had, I don’t know how many, guitar parts all down and they’re all gone now (laughter). He said, “I don’t know, Tom, if they’re going to work or not,” and I said, “If they don’t fit, get them out of there. If they’re not doing something good, they’ve got to go!” He and Dave Adler, who played piano on it, pared it down to just the piano and the voice. It really changed the dynamic of that song a lot.


Q: How did the album come together?
Pirozzoli: On this record the song choices were actually made by Willy. I sent him probably 20-25 songs. There were new songs that I had written that didn’t go on there and old songs that I had written that got on there. In fact, the first song on there “The Last Prophet” was one I had written on piano in 1977, a long time ago, man, like over 40 years ago.


Q: But everything works together, there’s a solid cohesion there, too.
Pirozzoli: That’s because we spent a lot of time trying to figure out what worked and didn’t, and we recorded songs that didn’t go on there at all.


Q: Well, everything that’s there, the 10 tracks, fits. It’s a complete piece of work.
Pirozzoli: I think you hit the nail on the head there when you say that, because that’s what’s important, to create a whole thing. That’s the ticket, you know?


Q: Yup, I do. Now, you’re coming into Slates in Hallowell, correct?
Pirozzoli: Yeah.


Q: Have you ever performed there before?
Pirozzoli: I have not; it’ll be my first time there.


Q: Come hungry, man.
Pirozzoli: Oh, I’ve eaten there. You know the Boneheads, obviously. Well, Scott (Elliot) played with me back in 1988. Do you remember when Jeff (Reynolds) and him and Cathie Stebbins and, I think, Robbie (Coffin) was in the group, too — the band was called Tonto’s Big Idea, and they recorded one of my songs. Oh, and Jeff played the drum parts on my “January River” CD. Scott played with me before he joined that band.


Q: Oh, so obviously you’ve been doing this for quite a while now.
Pirozzoli: Oh, yeah, I’m 69 years old. I’m around the same age as you; I’m assuming here …


Q: I’ve got a year on you, so, yeah.
Pirozzoli: … because I graduated from college in ’72, through no fault of my own. I mean, I was playing protest stuff in college when you were writing those articles, man. In 1970 I was standing on stages playing “Ohio” and every other song that worked. I never learned any Phil Ochs songs, though I should’ve back in those days.


Q: He was my favorite protest singer, another amazing and gifted songwriter, for sure. Anyway, back to the show in Hallowell. Will this be a solo performance or will you have some other musicians with you?
Pirozzoli: It probably will be a solo show. I talked to Scott about maybe playing a little bit with me. Willy is not here yet. We are doing a week’s worth of shows together the first week of February, but not in your area.


Q: I should be more observant, I just noticed the date of release of this CD is 2020!
Pirozzoli: This is going to be released on Jan. 5, which is my wife’s birthday. So, it’s totally brand new. In fact, Slates is actually the first show I’m doing to support it. People did get copies of it who went on to the Kickstarter (account).


Q: Now what is your catalogue of releases like?
Pirozzoli: I have eight other albums out. I made the first on in 1983, it was just a cassette release, and then in ’85 I did an LP release. In ’87 I made an album that Peter Gallway produced. I did that up at Studio 3 with Tom Blackwell engineering, and a lot of people came in and played some stuff on it like Harvey Reid and Devonsquare sang. In ’89 I made an album called “Travels,” and that was picked up by a national label and appeared on 136 radio stations. It was played a lot on CLZ, and Peter also produced that. In ’93 I made another record called “January River.” In ’97 I made another record called “American Tales,” and then I didn’t really record any singer/songwriter stuff until this album — so it’s been 22 years since that one. I did two instrumental albums with a friend of mine. We started like a jazz duo, which just broke up.


Q: Is there anything you’d like me to pass on to the readers of this article, especially seeing this is going to be a venue debut for you?
Pirozzoli: Well, there will be lots of good stories and songs. I’m looking forward to playing there and meeting the people who come out to the show. I’m also a painter, and I might bring a couple of my paintings with me. Could you put my website in there? That’s generally the best way to find out about somebody.


Lucky Clark has spent over 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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