Vocalist and harmonica player Tom Trashmouth Baker is his own man. He is a walkin’ encyclopedia of the blues. He don’t dress up, but he is clean. He don’t text, email, or tweet, but he sure does toot. You can catch him on the rotary-dial or catch him at the club.
When the man writes about using a cell phone while driving, and mobile phone radiation, believe what he says,
“If the radiation don’t get ya, the oncoming traffic will, but you style a’ drivin, bound to get somebody killed.”
Trash lives smack-dab in the middle of Overland Park, Kansas, about 50 feet from one of the largest and most traveled freeways in the state, I-435. But believe me, his pad is mellow, and the back-door faces a golf course. Now, he don’t golf, but every bluesman needs a backdoor out.
“I keep doin’ what I’m doin’,” he says, “I’m a singer and a songwriter.”
A Kansas City native, Trash carries on a long-standing tradition of speaking truth through the blues.
“White and up-tight, bout to blow a fuse, loosen’ up baby and turn off Fox News.”
Trash got his start by listening to and emulating popular singers like Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. He learned his style of music as a young man, by studying musicians such as Cleanhead Vinson.
“You see, I came to this music through rock,” says Trash. “As a kid, the Stones, the Doors and Hendrix led me to the real stuff.” Then in 1981, Tom ‘Trashmouth’ Baker and his longtime band The Homewreckers had a big break. They were the opening act for Muddy Waters.
As Trash puts it, “Feeling Muddy Waters intensity, meeting him in ‘81, warming up for him, hanging out back stage” was an honor and life-changing event.
“Hearing Muddy sing ‘I’m A Man’ live led me to singers like Otis Rush and Freddy King,” he said. “That music gave me chills up and down my back.”
Trashmouth Baker and organist Dave Creighton are still recording together after 37 years. They both love the music of vocalist, songwriter and alto-saxophonist, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson. His vivid short-stories in the blues, “Kidney Stew,” “Hold it Right There,” “Cherry Red” and “It Was a Dream” set you on the same course as Tom’s original tunes on “One Man’s Trash.”
“I was sittin’ in the Whitehouse, in the President’s chair, you know he looked right at me and said, ‘Cleanhead, I’m glad you’re here, but that was just a dream.”
Trash pays homage to such woeful activity and brings it into the 21st Century with lines like,
“Shut up and drive, put that Smartphone down, you just causin’ commotion everywhere ‘round this town.”
A blue-collar cat, Trash has spent plenty of time at the wheel, under the hood and in the backseat of some of the finest cars on the road. He worked slingin’ autoparts for the past several years. Workin’ the split-shift, hittin’ at clubs in Kansas City on both sides of the state line, and doing it all for years.
“You see you can almost make a livin’ playin’ jazz & blues in Kansas City,” said Trash. “Musicians still migrate here—for the greener pastures of 40 Highway, the East Bottoms and KCK.”
Cats like Trash came along way goin’ nowhere. And they’ve been doin’ it right here in Kansas City, with the pedal to the metal, since the day they were born.
“One Man’s Trash” is available on Blue Jewell Records or at www.tomtrashmouthbaker.com.
(Photo credit Itunes.com)