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Tom Hambridge carves out time to make a solo album

Tom Hambridge.jpg

The thought of taking two days off sure sounded good to songwriter/producer/drummer/singer Tom Hambridge.

He had been working nonstop, putting the finishing touches on George Thorogood‘s 2120 South Michigan Ave. Up next on his schedule was recording an album with Joe Louis Walker.

But instead of taking a break for two days, Hambridge decided to use that time to record and mix an entire album of his own.

The result is Boom!, which was released in August on Superstar Records. The 11-track album is a mix of the familiar and the fresh: songs Hambridge had a hand in writing that had already been recorded by other artists, such as “I Had a Real Good Time” (Delbert McClinton) and “I Got Your Country Right Here” (Gretchen Wilson), plus material he wrote specifically for this project.

“I remember the night before the first session I wrote ‘I Keep Things’ — about two in the morning before the first session — and also ‘Nine Pound Hammer,’ ” Hambridge recalls. “[Because of my schedule], I don’t have all this extra time to prepare … I think sometimes you get a little spark of energy when you put yourself under the gun like that.”

Whether for himself or other artists, writing songs on short notice is nothing new for Hambridge, who prefers to enter a recording studio armed with, as he puts it, “a lot of bullets in the gun.”

“We’re going to know exactly what we got going in,” he says, “and if we don’t have the best album that you can possibly make, we’re just going to write more songs.”

That’s exactly what happened during the sessions for Buddy Guy‘s Living Proof, which Hambridge produced. They co-wrote “Skanky” the night before it was recorded, Hambridge says, and “Let the Doorknob Hit Ya” was composed in the studio.

Hambridge will spend two solid weeks out of the studio this fall as the opening act for Thorogood. For his 2120 South Michigan Ave. album, Thorogood recorded a version of “Let It Rock,” a Chuck Berry song. Coincidentally, Hambridge was a semi-regular concert drummer for the mercurial Rock and Roll Hall of Famer over a period of about 10 years.

“It was always a gas, and I learned a lot from him,” Hambridge says of Berry. “We did sit backstage and talk, and there were situations where he wouldn’t talk to anyone at the venue but me. … He had a weird way of doing stuff sometimes, but there’s nothing like playing ‘Johnny B. Goode’ or ‘Roll Over Beethoven’ onstage in front of thousands of people with Chuck Berry.”

— By Chris M. Junior

Tom Hambridge on tour opening for George Thorogood
(schedule subject to change):

* Sept. 25: The Egg at Hart Theater — Albany, N.Y.
* Sept. 26 and 27: B.B. King Blues Club & Grill — New York
* Sept. 29: Grand Opera House — Wilmington, Del.
* Sept. 30: Keswick Theater — Glenside, Pa.
* Oct. 1: Wellmont Theater — Montclair, N.J.
* Oct. 2: The Fillmore — Silver Spring, Md.
* Oct. 4: FM Kirby Center for the Performing Arts — Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
* Oct. 6: NYCB Theatre at Westbury — Westbury, N.Y.
* Oct. 7: House of Blues — Boston
* Oct. 8: Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom — Hampton Beach, N.H.