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Tom Neilson
NEWS   Hello friends. Please go to my website and view the calendar to follow my tour schedule. I'll be traveling and performing throughout the south and southwest up into California and heading back east through April of 2017. Please let your friends in these places know I'm headed their way. Peace, tom
» go to the music page for more
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Hi Folks,

The Bard Insurgent here. My comrade D.O. (the Poet Roofer) and I got that handle (The Bard Insurgents) from traveling town to town performing songs and poetry about people's lives. I've been performing since I was 3 years old, cutting my vocal chords on liturgical and classical music. I was a concert soloist as a child, when I wasn't herding cows, throwing hay and shoveling manure.
During the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam war, I began writing songs about social change. I left the country in 1970 and my dozen years in other countries, mostly in Africa & South America, have provided a global perspective to my music. My travels helped me realize that people all around the world are essentially the same in their basic life needs and their desires to live peacefully in their communities.
These experiences have informed my commitment to working for international understanding as I organize at home. A powerful way to educate and inspire is with music.
I tell people's stories, do social commentary with a touch of satire that I hope you enjoy and share with your friends, as well as sing together in the streets and in your living rooms. I also have children's music written for the children in my life with Jacob and Kayla as primary muses.

Looking forward to seeing you on the road,


Why this name?
It's my name.
Do you play live?
Yes, I play anywhere from coffeehouses to living rooms, union halls to classrooms.
Special moments are anytime people are working for social change and my music is helpful to them. I especially enjoy working with students in colleges and high schools through residencies, workshops, course offerings, class instruction, and concerts.
How, do you think, does the internet (or mp3) change the music industry?
It puts music, that is otherwise unavailable, in the hands (ears) of everyone.
Would you sign a record contract with a major label?
I've never been approached by a label and haven't thought much about it.
Band History:

I have been writing songs for 50 years and performing for over 60. I have long standing involvements with groups working for peace and justice and frequently write songs and perform for them for educational and fund raising purposes. This is particularly evident with groups working for environmental protection and safety. Some of these songs have been used in documentaries, TV shows, and theater productions.
Having lived a segment of my life outside the U.S., I have performed my music in 21 countries on five continents. Leaving the US in 1970 opened up the world to me. Upon returning, I crafted these experiences into a doctoral dissertation about U.S. political economic hegemony, titled "Self-Reliance or Dependency in the Horn of Africa."
These experiences are also reflected in my songs. I try to offer a musical response to globalization by telling the stories of peoples' struggles against greed and violence, interjecting a good deal of levity along the way. I have also been involved with stage and street theater with my writing, acting, and directing.
At home, I have a long history working with children through my teaching and coaching. Root Beer Makes Me Burp is a tender chronicle of songs written for the children in my life, especially my son Jacob.
Your influences?
Tom Paxton, Malvina Reynolds, Tom Lehrer, Victor Borge, Martha McCune, Ethan Miller, Pat Humphries, Sandy O, Louise Mosrie, Lynn Waldron, Rick Burkhardt, Charlie King, Woody Guthrie, Phill Ochs
Favorite spot?
South River gorge
Equipment used:
My voice, guitar, and harmonies from the audience.
Anything else...?
Thank you to all the people who keep the music alive.
Biomess CD cover
Tom in Nashville