Tom Hambridge’s life has changed quite a bit over the last two years, since artist Susan Tedeschi asked the drummer to produce and play on her first record. The multi-talented Hambridge also brought some material to the table – including her two big hits, “It Hurts So Bad” and “Rock Me Right.” The songs won several awards, helping Tedeschi snag a 1999 Grammy nomination for best new artist.
Since producing Tedeschi’s album, Tom has moved his family from the New England area to Nashville. Upon his arrival, he produced several new artists, such as Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, Shannon Penn, and Sons Of The Jet Age. Most recently Tom finished a record with Dan King. “I get a lot of calls to do what I call ‘jumping in the trenches,'” he says. “I’ll look at the material and a lot of times I’ll play. I like to produce and play at the same time because it puts me in the middle of things, right inside the arrangements. Even if there is a drummer in the group, I can sit down and help create what the drummer is going to play.”
As for the Tedeschi gig, Hambridge landed it after having toured with Jonatha Brooke and doing her live record. Tedeschi heard Tom with Brooke, called him, and asked him to join her unit. Since then they’ve toured with The Allman Brothers, done some dates on The Lillith Fair tour, and headlined several dates.
From a drummer’s perspective, Hambridge says Tedeschi’s music starts in the blues. “That could be 12/8 stuff, shuffles, Chicago kinds of things, or Texas shuffles. Then she has a real cool gospel and soul thing going on. And the stuff I wrote for her is rock.
“I love this gig because I get to play lots of different things in Susan’s set,” Tom continues. “It’s not just getting out there and playing loud and hard the whole night. We start off with ‘Rock Me Right,’ which is in-your-face, and then we immediately go into the quietest ballad/brush thing. Susan sounds like a cross between Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin, so she’s got quite a range and can also belt it out.”
The success Hambridge is experiencing continues to open doors for him to write for and work with artists he’s revered. In fact, he’s elated over the fact that a song he wrote, “Lone Wolf,” will be the title track of Johnny Winter’s next record.
Tedeschi and band have already begun working on her next album, which includes several Hambridge compositions. And while Tom is extremely busy working with Susan, he’s now so in demand that he’s having to decline touring offers with some of his favorite artists. According to Tom, “I hate having to say no, but I feel so fortunate to be in a position where people I admire want to work with me. It’s something I’ve always wanted.”