The Toms' festival concerts are designed for quiet, attentive audiences who have come purely to listen. (They do not typically play free-entry venues, restaurants or noisy bars where people are not going to pay attention - although they may on special occasions).
Festival sets typically consist of perhaps 50% original songs (trad-style narrative, strong on melody and emotion) 20% trad songs, 25% trad tunes and 5% original tunes. Both Toms sing (TB takes perhaps 60% of the lead vocals) and their very similar voices create some excellent harmonies. TN takes lead on nearly all the tunes, incuding the TB originals.
The Toms have a large enough repertoire to play 3-4 spots without repeating any material, and aim to do so - while also making sure there are a few 'greatest hits' in each concert (so that does usually mean a certain amount of repetition).
FESTIVAL PAs, SCHEDULING etc.
Please advise where PA is to be used (many festival venues do not need one). For amplification spec and stage layout, click here. The Toms take a pride in making life easy for sound engineers by using on-stage pre-mixing. However, small ajustments to both monitors and main mix will be necessary, so please provide an engineer to mix throughout the show. At low levels monitors will not be necessary, but for halls please provide two monitor mixes (one each) if possible, or just one if that's all you've got. A back-feed of the main out-front mix is not really acceptable. The Toms may ask to use elements of their own PA (e.g. mics) if they are not familiar with your equipment or the monitors do not suit. Please see notes below.
PAs of various sizes, with or without sound engineers, are available upon request.
The Toms may use up to 12 instruments (unless requested otherwise), so cannot risk playing amplified concerts without a proper sound-check (a minimum of 10 mins on stage). This really needs to be before the start of the concert, if at all possible, not between acts.
Whenever any multi-instumental combo is required to use a PA without a full, private, sound check, the first number - which is the most important - is likely to be spoiled by signals to the crew and other problems on stage. And this will continue with every instrument change throughout the concert. The gig is less likely to be a success from the audience or the performers point of view.
The Toms are known for using a variety of instruments, songs/tunes, styles and deliveries in every spot - and that's usually what Festvials want. To achieve a focused show - as normally expected by their audiences - they therefore do prefer to play fewer, longer sets, if possible, rather than more, shorter spots. Festival sets of less than 30-40 minutes do not really permit a happy balance between production time/effort (unpacking/packing, getting on and off stage, tuning, line checks etc.) and performance. However, The Toms are willing to do them if necessary.
Please always allocate a 20 minute slot in your schedule for all first sound checks in each amplified venue, to allow for unpacking, tuning etc.
The Toms have frequently had sound checks scheduled by festivals at the same time as performances elsewhere, or with insufficient time to move venues. This does make life hard, and can impact on the quality of the performance!
Also, if possible, please do not schedule work in another, different venue, between a sound check and a performance without prior discussion. This is because the process of packing, moving, unpacking, playing, re-packing, coming back, unpacking again and setting up, may defeat the point of the sound check. The Toms also prefer to be in the audience throughout the concert before their slot if possible, so they'll be tuned in to the mood of the event, can pick up on any running gags, and can avoid duplicating any material played by other acts. They also need time for their instruments to acclimatise to the room temperature properly.
After the concert please make sure that they have sufficient time to pack their instruments, get to the next event, unpack, and sound check if required.
If the journey's on foot they may need to make THREE TRIPS EACH. (They have to carry at least 6 guitar-sized cases, 4 or more large briefcase-sized cases, and 2 or more large long stand bags).
If they need to travel by van, they will need to be able to park close to both venues.
Please reserve spaces if possible, or warn us in advance if there's a potential problem, so we can research alternatives.
Both Toms are experienced workshop leaders
TOM NAPPER's festival workshops concentrate on tunes and tune playing - mainly for tenor banjo, tenor guitar and the mandolin family. (Please make sure your programme warns people which instruments are most suitable. Other instrumentalists are welcomed, but may not get as much from the workshop). Tom also tutors individuals and classes around West Yorkshire, including special needs and other groups.
TOM BLISS uses his experience as a scriptwriting lecturer in his narrative SONGWRITING workshops. He also offers workshops on GUITAR (beginner and intermediate; various tunings plus classical, folk rock and fingerstyle techniques), ACCOMPANIMENTS + ARRANGEMENTS for original and traditional songs and/or tunes (any instrument), STAGE CRAFT/PA and MARKETING FOR MUSICIANS. See TB's solo/festival page for more info.
TOM NAPPER TOM BLISS together also provide workshops on arranging tunes and/or songs, "Rearranging The Tradition" stage-craft, working as a duo, meet-the-artist etc. Suitable for schools and other groups.
Sessions led by TOM NAPPER are well attended and rewarding for players and listeners alike.
TOM BLISS is happy to manage singarounds, or carry out MCing duties if required.
SAMPLE COPY FOR PROGRAMMES
(Copy+paste or rewrite as required!!)
"Tom Napper (vocal, tenor banjo, mandolin and octave mandolin) Tom Bliss (vocal, guitar, mandocello, whistle and concertina): Strikingly original story songs, powerful harmonies, terrific banter, plus multi-instrumental virtuosity from the English/Celtic tradition. Definitely one to watch." (Chichester Festivities)
"Brilliant, a fusing of two exceptional talents.. gutsy, rootsy.. actually fantastically good.. spark off each other like an established comedy act.. Go and see this hugely talented duo the next time they come anywhere near you. You won't be disappointed." (various)
"Strikingly original songs and multi-instrumental virtuosity have won this duo favourable comparison with Show Of Hands. Tom B’s perceptive songwriting is inspired by real people and events and he is a strong singer, as we know from his work with Slide, while Tom N is a veteran of many Yorkshire-based bands. Between them they play guitar, mandolin, tenor banjo, mandocello, fiddle and more." (Black Swan FC York)
"Excruciatingly talented duo from Leeds. They excel on the folk circuit at home and abroad. Highly respected, worked with the best, can play a shed-load of instruments and got great voices too. Do you need more? "(Kiveton Park FC)
Click here for some reviews to quote
Click here for some other promoter endorsements
The Toms will usually need accommodation if on tour, booked for more than one night, or if your festival is more than an hour and a half from Leeds (please check). If they're working before mid-afternoon, or have a particularly long journey they may need accom on the night prior to the first day's booking.
The Toms never share a room. They can sleep on camp beds etc though if asked, and TB sometimes sleeps in his camper van in warmer seasons - specially at festivals, so he can have a drink after the show. If TB is to camp, please provide accom for TN within walking distance - otherwise the whole point of TB camping is lost!
Please note that TB is allargic to cats (he does LIKE cats, dogs, gerbils - all pets in fact - but he's allergic to cat hair). Simply keeing the cat away does not solve the problem, but medication does, provided he's been warned in advance, so he can take a pill before he arrives. (Otherwise his throat swells and he can't sing!).
Please send your contract in plenty of time, or we can send our contract to you if you prefer. We are happy to proceed on an informal exchange of emails, but please take note of the following:
Please make sure your venues are all licenced for performance, otherwise The Toms may be liable under current legislaton.
Please provide a POST CODE for the venue (and accom) - this is to help with navigation and the return of PRS forms.
An EMERGENCY PHONE NUMBER in case of breakdown is useful too.
Payment will usually be by cash or cheque (made out to TOM NAPPER) on the day. If you require an invoice please let us know in advance. If so, payment to be within 30 days of the booking.