Hey everyone, if you haven't heard of this magazine produced from Seattle and you like rockabilly, honky tonk and rock'n'roll be sure to check them out at a magazine store or at www.bluesuedenews.com. They cover the scene in the Pacific Northwest both current and retro acts with interviews, pictures, discographys and CD/DVD/Book reviews. Here's their review of the Palomars album "Out of the Past"
The Palomars debut album "Out Of The Past" provides a good representation of the band's live sound with an up-tempo rockabilly and swing style. A November, 2014 article by Natalia Pardalis of "Hello Vancity" said of the band's sound: "It’s an honest and distinctive sound that is rooted in the past but ever so present."
The band was formed in 2011 by lead singer/steel guitarist Tom Hammel and upright bassist Ken Wilson to follow their love of '40s and '50s musical and cultural styles. This just seemed natural for Ken who also runs a business selling '50s rockabilly wear and for Tom, who's love of the steel guitar led him to explore musical styles from that era. Tom notes, "I was surprised how the band's initial rockabilly focus led so easily to other styles that were influenced by jazz and western swing, but without losing their edge". Part of the bands signature sound is the twin harmony lines played on steel guitar and electric guitar.
The band has been playing locally in Vancouver and has connected with local swing dance groups which was a natural connection for the band. That's in large part due to the bands swinging rhythm section with drummer Sandy McNair and bassist Ken Wilson who have been playing together in various bands for over 20 years.
Since the release of "Out Of The Past", the band has been surprised with the international interest in the music. Copies of the CD and downloads have been purchased by fans across North America and as far as Germany, Hungary, and Switzerland and the band's songs have been aired by "Rockin' Therapy Radio" from Spain. The band's songs have also been played by several rockabilly DJs across North America including Del Villarreal who's "Go Kat GO! The Rockabilly Show" airs weekly on WCBN radio in Ann Arbour and Live365 Motorbilly internet radio.
Spurred by the interest in the debut CD, the Palomars have released 3 singles and are currently working on recording a new album which will be released in the Spring of 2017.
"What it comes down to for us," remarks Tom, "Is that we really dig what we’re doing, and we’ve brought a lot of people along with us on a historical musical journey. We know rockabilly isn't a mainstream form of music, but that's fine because it was always intended as a form of rebellion."
The Palomars are:
Tom Hammel - Lead vocals and steel guitar
Ken Wilson - Upright bass
Sandy McNair - Drums
Palomars - Band Member Bios
Tom Hammel (Steel Guitar, Electric Guitar Lead Vocals)
Tom plays the steel and electric guitars and is lead vocalist in The Palomars which he formed in 2011. He delivers a dynamic vocal style and snappy steel guitar playing that conjure up western swing and rockabilly from the 40s and 50s. His song-writing is very influenced by songs from that era. Tom has been playing guitar and singing for decades but took up the steel guitar in 2008 while playing with alt-country band, The Acuff Roses. He is featured in the Winter 2013 edition of the Western Swing Music Society newsletter.
He has performed in a number of roots-based bands in Vancouver over the years including The Ploughboys, the Sunsetters, the Uprights, Neon Stars and the Acuff Roses. He has shared the stage with members of Ray Condo & His Ricochets and has played in many local shows and Western Swing Music Society showcases. His roots band, The Ploughboys, played at the Yellowknife's Folk on the Rocks music festival in 2000.
In his teens when 50s revival was popular on local radio stations, Tom was drawn to early Elvis and Bill Haley and the infectious combination of swing beats and walking bass lines. He enjoys listening to current acts that re-interpret western swing music including the Ray Condo & His Ricochets, The Time Jumpers, Big Sandy & his Fly-rite Boys, the Starliners, the Mavericks, Wayne Hancock, Hank Williams III and Asleep at the Wheel.
Ken Wilson (Upright Bass)
Ken keeps a pounding bottom end on his upright bass which he puts his soul into on stage with the Palomars. Originally from the UK, Ken moved to Vancouver in 1986 and has been playing in the Vancouver alternative Rockabilly/Jump Blues music scene for the past 28 years. He has played with current band mate, drummer Sandy McNair on and off over the last 25 years, making the two a rhythmic force to be reckoned with.
Ken has performed and recorded numerous CDs with artists Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, Flatland 6, Last Wild Sons, Rockin Daddies, Steve Kozak, Victor Pollack and Harpdog Brown. Ken feels honoured to have played with many great artists such as James "Icepick" Harman, Big Joe Louis, Cousin Harley (aka Paul Pigat), the late great Nick Curran, Twisters, Kenny Wayne, Flatland 6, Pete Turland and many more.
Sandy McNair (Drums)
Sandy keeps a tight rhythm section in the Palomars with upright bassist Ken Taylor. From a baby bouncing on his mothers knee in time to the music, Sandy quickly felt the beat and started playing the drums at 12 years old.
He has a long history of playing in roots and blues acts local to the Vancouver area. This includes keeping time for country swing band "Roadside Attraction", "Barrel House Blues Band", and "Trouble Bound", where he met current band mate Ken Wilson. He also played in notable blues acts "Blues Hawks", "Wired", a blues brothers revue, which morphed into "Harpdog Brown & the Bloodhounds". These bands opened for touring acts such as Long John Baldry, Junior Wells and Hank Ballard and the Midnighters. He helped form rockabilly band "The Rockin Daddys" where he re-united with bassist Ken Wilson.
Sandy was influenced by his older brother's 45 rock and roll records and enjoys a variety of styles from big band to blues to latin rock.
Tom Hammel Profile: Western Swing Music Society Newsletter, Winter, 2013
Following is the profile of steel guitarist and lead vocalist Tom Hammel as it appeared in the above issue:
Tom Hammel's musical endeavours started in Vancouver at age ten when his German parents purchased him an accordion. They took him to weekly lessons; that lasted for about 5 years, until high school when he discovered that guitar was much cooler.
During the 1970s when 50s revival was popular on local radio stations, Tom was drawn to early Elvis and Bill Haley and the infectious combination of swing beats and walking bass lines. Over the next two decades, Tom played and performed in Wall Street and a number of local rock cover bands, then (in the late 1990s) decided he wanted to start a rockabilly band. He connected with a local upright bassist, Andrew Burden, who suggested adding steel guitar player, Mark Thibeault.
Initially reticent about steel guitar, Tom went along with adding Mark; what happened next was an awakening to the joys of western swing music. Mark introduced Tom to Bob Wills, and in particular, the Tiffany Transcription series of radio recordings that captured the raw talent of the Wills' musicians. Together with Bill Waldron (drums), Jenny Lester (fiddle), Zehya Chelan (saxophone) and with Tom on electric guitar and lead vocals, they formed The Ploughboys.
Mark played a big role in encouraging Tom to write songs for the band, add twin guitar/steel lines and improvise on solos. The Ploughboys played many local shows, several Western Swing Music showcases, and were invited to play at the Yellowknife's Folk on the Rocks Music Festival in 2000. The band covered many older country and western swing artists and wrote several original tunes (these can be heard at: www.myspace.com/the_ploughboys )
Tom idolized local Vancouver recording artists Ray Condo & His Ricochets jamming with the band at many of the Honky Tonk Friday nights at the Marine Club in Vancouver. The late Ray Condo was influential in steering Tom to western swing and country.
Tom also located the Western Swing Music Society in Vancouver through a web link, and contacted president John York. John talked to Tom at length about the society and western swing music encouraging his band to play at the Society's showcases, which they did several times. Tom served as a WSMS board member from 2001 to 2003.
The Ploughboys broke up in 2001 after band members Mark and Jenny fell in love, married and moved to Smithers, B.C. After this breakup, Tom played in local rockabilly bands, The Sunsetters and The Uprights (with talented steel guitar player, Jimmy Roy), then started an alt-country band called The Acuff Roses. While he was in the Acuff Roses, fellow guitarist and singer, Steve Josephson encouraged Tom to look at a used E9 pedal steel guitar that was for sale in a local music store. Tom bought that, took it apart, cleaned it, oiled it, and taught himself how to play. Tom became addicted to that instrument and played it to the point where the (now) ex-wife started complaining....Tom is still with his steel guitar.
With renewed energy in playing western swing and rockabilly, in 2011 Tom started The Palomars with himself on steel and lead vocals, Ken Wilson (upright bass), Sandy McNair (drums), and "Partner" (electric guitar). The band is currently playing local gigs, writing some new material and will be doing some recording in the near future.
Along with the older masters of the idiom such as Bob Wills, Tom enjoys listening to current acts that re-interpret western swing music, such as the Time Jumpers, Big Sandy & his Fly-rite Boys, the Starliners, the Mavericks, Wayne Hancock, Hank Williams III and Asleep at the Wheel. As anyone who has heard The Palomars knows, Tom's new band sounds right at home in such good company!