Audio: Happy 65th birthday Tom Rapp

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Tom Rapp

The big news of the first Terrastock festival in Providence in 1997 was the reappearance of Tom Rapp, prime mover of Pearls Before Swine, and absent from the music scene since the mid 70s. On Thursday 8 March Tom will turn 65, much of his second coming involved Damon & Naomi (hence it’s appearance here) - they performed together a number of times, Damon produced (and they both appeared on) his comeback album A Journal of The Plague Year and appeared on the new recordings that appeared on the Pearls Before Swine compilation album Constructive Melancholy.

He seems to have drifted back into reclusion, his last appearance that I’m aware of was at the 6th Terrastock festival (here’s an mp3 of that perfomance) that took place in 2006.

Here’s a few bits and pieces (and I’ll add a little personal reminiscence down below)

Here’s Damon & Naomi with Tom performing Bob Dylan’s I Shall Be Released at the first Terrastock in 1997

Here’s Tom covering Damon & Naomi’s Tour of the World also at the first Terrastock in 1997

Here’s Damon & Naomi covering Pearls Before Swine’s Translucent Carriages for the For The Dead in Space tribute album

Here’s Tom interviewing Damon & Naomi (and a little the vice-versa)

Here’s a review of Tom Rapp performing with Damon & Naomi in NYC in 1997.

Tom Rapp fan page.

After Terrastock in 1997 Tom got in touch with me, and sent me a tape of Damon & Naomi’s performance, we exchanged occasional email, I had only been introduced to Tom’s work a few months previously by Galaxie list member Bob who had put me two tapes together of the (then) hard to find records, so it was odd going from ignorance to exchanging email in a matter of months.

Tom played Terrastock in London in August 1999, his first appearance in London for almost 30 years… I had a ticket, I also had a two year old son I had to look after, schedules changed and I arrived at ULU just as Tom left the stage. After Damon & Naomi’s performance later on I got the chance to chat with Tom, a really sweet guy, to be honest I can’t remember too much of what we talked of (awe can do things to your memory) but we certainly talked about Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music - I had heard of, but not heard a great deal of it. A couple of months later and a large and unannounced package was delivered to my door containing the complete 6xCD Anthology with a postcard that read…

Hello Andy
Congratulations. You have won The Terrastock UK ticket stub drawing.
OK - Actually I have 2 of these - one was a gift - so now this one is a gift to you. Good to meet you at T3.
Tom Rapp

Blown away - doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings. That was 13 years ago, in those 13 years I’ve lost touch with Tom, I’m probably the worst person in the world at maintaining friendships.

The last I heard of Tom was that he’d left Philadelphia for Florida. Wherever you are Tom, I hope you have a great birthday!

Anthology of American Folk Music
Anthology of American Folk Music

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