Drummer and songwriter Tom Hambridge had a brush with a more widespread following in 2000 following his debut for a major-record label, Balderdash, for the New York City-based Artemis Records. Artemis, a short-lived label run by record industry legend Danny Goldberg, folded just a few years later, but while it lasted, the label had an impressive lineup of roots music artists including Warren Zevon, Jimmie Vaughan, Todd Rundgren, Hubert Sumlin, and Susan Tedeschi.
Raised in Buffalo, N.Y., Hambridge got his first set of drums as a five-year-old, and had his first band a short time later. The youngest of four children, he spent a lot of time listening to his older sisters' albums of the Rolling Stones and the Beatles, learning to play drums by ear off the albums he'd heard. He focused his efforts on music and football through high school, but when it came time to choose a collegiate path, Hambridge chose the prestigious Berklee School of Music.
He fit right in with the then-lively club scene in Boston in the early '80s, and pursued gigs and his studies, graduating from Berklee on time. Shortly after graduating, he was tapped by the late Viriginia-based guitarist Roy Buchanan and became his drummer and singer. He honed his chops after several years on the road with Buchanan, and when he was home in Boston, promoters would call Hambridge to help assemble local bands to backup the likes of traveling musicians like Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley.
While pursuing studio work, live gigs, and short tours with better-known artists in the '90s, Hambridge put together his own band, TH & the Wreckage, the recipient of many Boston Music awards. After years of near-misses with a major record company deal, Hambridge moved to Nashville with his wife and young daughter, but shortly before he left Boston, he played drums on, and produced, Susan Tedeschi's debut blues album for Artemis Records, the platinum-selling Just Won't Burn. Hambridge wrote two of Tedeschi's crossover hit singles, "It Hurt So Bad," and "Rock Me Right."
In early 1998, Hambridge began to work on an album of his own songs that would become Balderdash, his debut for Artemis Records. Tedeschi, who would later go on to marry and record with Derek Trucks, sings two duets on the album, "Opposites Attract," and "Boneyard." With its country and blues inflections, Balderdash could best be described as a roots rock album.
Since recording with Tedeschi in Boston in the '90s, Hambridge has recorded and shared stages with a short who's-who of people in the worlds of blues and rock: Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Shemekia Copeland, Delbert McClinton, and even Hank Williams, Jr. Aside from Balderdash, released in 2000, Hambridge's other releases include Still Running, Bang N' Roll, Boogieman, Live, and Mater's Car Blues. ~ Richard J. Skelly