Since the late 1970s, Hartford, Connecticut native Tom Guerra has been a popular guitarist / songwriter on the New England club circuit, playing with a host of leading blues, rock n’ roll and R&B acts. Guerra, born in 1963, grew up playing various clubs around New England, and first gained widespread notoriety after being profiled in the March 1991 Guitar Player magazine.
SONGWRITER / JOURNALIST
In addition to his guitar skills, Guerra is an avid songwriter as well as music journalist, serving as a contributing writer for several guitar publications including Vintage Guitar Magazine, Premier Guitars, and The ToneQuest Report. He has written liner notes for several groups, perhaps most notably for his friend, legendary guitarist Johnny Winter’s multiple albums in his “Live Bootleg Series.” Despite being recognized for his work as a guitarist, Guerra said “There are so many great guitarists out there, I have always felt that the way to differentiate myself is to write well-crafted rock and roll music with meaningful lyrics.” This objective has been recognized by the many who have praised Tom’s songwriting talents. World class bassist Kenny Aaronson (Bob Dylan, Hall and Oates, Billy Idol, Joan Jett and many others) said, “Tom is a great songwriter. He has great pop sensibilities, and I really like his way of crafting a melody. He is a sensitive and keen observer of the human condition as one will hear in his lyrics.” In 2017, Guerra was asked to write original music for the legendary British band The Yardbirds.
Tom is perhaps best known for his work with Mambo Sons, the group he formed in 1999 with singer Scott Lawson Pomeroy. Aided and abetted by guitar legend Rick Derringer, the group went onto releasing four critically acclaimed albums on Ominicide Records over the next 10 years, culminating in their 2009 double album Heavy Days. This 20 song effort included “The Early Train,” “She Just Wants to Ride,” an energetic live cover of the Hendrix classic “Stone Free,” and what would become the group’s most popular song, “Overend Watts,” written about the legendary Mott the Hoople bassist Peter “Overend” Watts. Heavy Days was named “CD Release of the Week” by the Hartford Courant in 2009. In this review, rock writer Eric Danton said “Accordingly, Guerra is the focal point here, and deservedly so: he peels off blistering slide guitar licks on opening track ‘She Just Wants to Ride,’ dials in an acoustic-Zeppelin feel with the faintly Eastern-sounding riff on ‘Love is Strange’ and unleashes enough funk on ‘I Love My Family’ to make Sly Stone proud.” In early 2010, Cleveland’s “Rock and Roll Report” named Heavy Days the best straight-ahead rock and roll recording of the year.
In 2012, following the announcement of Mambo Sons’ hiatus, Tom began a solo career that to date has generated four full length albums, with many of the songs addressing current social issues. One tune, entitled “Love Comes to Us All” was written to honor those impacted by the Sandy Hook school shooting. Another, called “Put Up Their Names – The Ballad of the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans” honors the 74 sailors lost aboard the U.S.S. Frank E. Evans Naval disaster off the coast of Vietnam in June 1969. According to Guerra, the purpose of the song is to bring attention to the U.S. Government’s refusal to list the names of the 74 who died on the Vietnam Wall.
In 2014, Tom Guerra released his first solo album All of the Above, featuring 11 new original songs, aided by Morgan Fisher, pianist from Mott the Hoople and Queen.
Guerra’s second solo album, Trampling Out the Vintage (2016), again featured Morgan Fisher, and also Matt Zeiner, drummer Mike Kosasek, and Kenny Aaronson.
In 2017, Aaronson, now with the legendary British band The Yardbirds, asked Tom to collaborate on some new songs for the group. Together, they contributed three tracks, “The Lyin’ King,” “Goodbye to Yesterday,” and “Family of One” to The Yardbirds.
In June, 2018, Tom released his third solo album, American Garden, with ten new songs including the three tunes Tom and Kenny wrote for The Yardbirds. Also included were “Blood on the New Rising Sun,” featuring legendary Boston guitarist Jon Butcher, and “Meet Me at the Bottom of Your Glass,” Tom’s duet with pianist Morgan Fisher of Mott the Hoople. The album was rounded out by Tom’s take on Tom Petty’s “Walls” and his version of Brandi Carlile’s “The Story.”
In May 2020, Tom released his fourth solo album entitled Sudden Signs of Grace. According to Pete Prown, music editor for Vintage Guitar magazine, “With his previous albums, Tom established himself as a fine rock and roll guitarist… Sudden Signs of Grace shows his growth and new direction as a songwriter steeped in the Laurel Canyon school of songwriting.“
Sudden Signs of Grace contains nine new original tunes including the single “Lover’s Time,” and two covers: “Streets of Baltimore” as popularized by Gram Parsons, and “Gimme Some Water,” an early Eddie Money composition. Said Guerra about his late friend Money, “When I heard Eddie was sick, I recorded one of my favorite tunes of his and sent him a copy.” Former MTV VJ Martha Quinn, Money’s longtime friend, also gave Tom’s version a thumbs up.
Recorded prior to the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic, Guerra, speaking from his home in Eastern Connecticut, said “I felt compelled to release Sudden Signs of Grace now, because people need music, especially during times like these.”
FRIENDS AND FAMILY: Over the years, Tom has recorded or played with Rick Derringer, Jon Butcher, Jack Sonni of Dire Straits, The Dirty Bones Band, Max Weinberg, Mark Nomad, The Easton Brothers, Muddy Waters bassist Charles Calmese, members of The Allman Brothers Band, Morgan Fisher of Queen and Mott the Hoople, Second Son, Guitar Shorty, Adolph Jacobs of The Coasters, Kenny Aaronson, Alan St. Jon and The Delrays.
Published on June 25, 2020