Coming to you all the way from Richmond Virginia – Richmond Tom:
First if you could state your name and where you grew up? How did this inspire you to use Richmond Tom as your name?
Tom: Well, my name is Tom Williams, and I grew up pretty much between Richmond VA and a little town in NC called Black Creek. My father’s family was from there, sharecroppers for generations. The name Richmond Tom actually got stuck to me when I was hopping trains. There was a couple of Toms in the circle I ran in, so they added “Richmond” to my name, to distinguish me, and because of my great pride in being from Richmond.
How and why did you first pick up the guitar?
Tom: I guess the reason I first picked up the guitar was-well, there’s two reasons, to be honest. My father used to sing old country songs to me and my sister on family road trips, so I thought it would be cool to be able to play along, mostly because he would mangle the melodies so much. After I picked it up, I just decided to see if I could actually play it. The first song I learned, believe it or not, was “Blowing In The Wind”
Who were your main early influences?
Tom: My main early influences were Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Woody Guthrie, who was one of if not the greatest folk singer ever. His music was mellow by today’s standards, but the lyrics were pretty angry. He was a product of his times, when there was great upheaval in this country, and unions actually served a purpose. He also really loved this country. Oddly enough, I never really had any RAC influences musically, but Ian definitely helped me lyrically. My first love has always been classic country, and I think that comes through in my playing style, regardless of the song.
What was your journey like venturing out and playing gigs?
Tom: The first gig I played (other than in living rooms and around campfires) was the Label 56 show for St Paddy’s day. It was weird when Rick got in touch and asked me if I wanted to play. I want to thank Shane from Altoona for recommending me to Rick. I have to admit, I was nervous the first time. Always get nervous when I take the stage. I was lucky the first time because I had Ryan and Dirk for moral support. Ryan actually sat in on a couple of songs in the beginning so I could get comfortable with it. It’s been great, meeting all the people I have, and there’s no feeling in the world that can compare to your comrades singing with you at the top of their lungs.
Do you have any projects or events you are working on?
Tom: I’m supposed to go play Mahanoy on the 22nd of November, and I’m working on a song for a good friend of mine whose a single mother, but holds on to her ideals and never lets things get her down. I admire that quality in her, and think she deserves a song. I’m hoping a good quality video will be made, and maybe a CD, but that’s probably a long time away.
I seen you are a huge Martin Cox supporter, do you care to tell us about that?
Tom: Marty has done more for the movement (if you want to call it that) than I believe he knows. I have never met him in person, but we’ve talked on Facebook and on the phone. I remember hearing dubbed tapes of Extreme Hatred and thinking “Damn these guys are serious!” We simply have to stand together and take care of our own, because that’s what makes us a family.
Is there anyone you would like to Thank?
Tom: That list is too long. I’ll try to name a few Keystone United, Rick from Label 56, Activist, New Nation Productions, Frau Williams, My Daughter, who told me it doesn’t matter if I sound good or not, all that matters is that I’m doing it. Club 28 in Altoona, who got me to play their Yule gathering even before I played Label 56, Trish and Bryan for making their house our house, Justin and Jamie in Mahanoy for the same reason, Dowkus for keeping me laughing, and Stacy for making my page so awesome. And there’s a ton of people I didn’t name, but I’m sure they know who they are.
We in Keystone United would like to thank Richmond Tom for taking the time to reply to our interview. We are looking forward to working with you and attending future events.
Keep up the good work!