time to time, some more astute newspaper and magazine
reporters discover Tom's music and are so impressed
that they shine some of their light on him. We appreciate
it & will post their insights here.
talent flies below the radar in Western PA
By Regis Behe
Sunday, March 27, 2005
During a recent interview, lead singer Chris Allen of Rosavelt
expressed admiration for the local music scene, noting that
his hometown of Cleveland failed to match Pittsburgh's diversity.
While I'm not familiar with the breadth or quality of music
in Cleveland, I do agree there is an incredible range of
talent in this region. New faces, such as Emily Rodgers,
a young singer from Lawrenceville, emerge every week, it
seems. Rodgers and her band, Her Majesty's Stars, have the
ability to become a regional, if not national, touring act.
For every young musician of promise, however, there are
three or four who have quietly been producing music for years.
Take Tom Breiding, Tom Duda and Mike Sweeney. They aren't
the best-known musicians in Western Pennsylvania, but they
are among the most accomplished. All have recently released
CDs that deserve to be heard.
Breiding, who lives in McMurray, Washington County, has
quietly built an impressive body of work with releases including "American
Son" and "Two Tone Chevrolet." His new CD, "Guitar and Pen,
Vol. II," finds him going the solo acoustic route, with great
success. Breiding is an excellent storyteller, and on "Guitar
and Pen" his vocals are reminiscent of John Mellencamp's:
simple, direct and affecting.
Duda's "Instrumental Telepathy" is the polar opposite of
Breiding's CD. As the title indicates, the songs are instrumentals
and range from the cocktail lounge feel of "Blue Moon Serenade" to "Funk
'N Pie," which sounds like it could have been an outtake
from a Tower of Power session. The blues-drenched "Charlane's
Allure" features some tasty organ and piano courtesy of Chuck
Leavell, who's toured with the Allman Brothers and Rolling
Stones. Duda, of Latrobe, plays guitar and bass throughout,
but he generously shares the spotlight with musicians such
as saxophonist Eric DeFade, keyboard player Bill Hubauer
and Pete Freeman on pedal steel guitar. When Duda does step
forward -- check out his solo on "Rocket Sled" -- he shows
himself to be one of the area's better, if somewhat anonymous,
Sweeney, who lives on the South Side, is a musician's musician,
having worked with Breiding, Shari Richards, Glenn Pavone
and numerous others in the area. Two CDs he recorded with
a loose aggregation of musicians under the name Hoodoo Drugstore
indicate he's an excellent composer of bluesy, barrelhouse
rock with strains of country and zydeco woven into the mixes.
Sweeney wrote or co-wrote all the songs on "Misfits, Murderers & Madmen" and "Root
Doctor" and played bass. He enlisted two fine vocalists,
D.C. Fitzgerald and Robert Peckman, for the vocals, and if
you didn't know better, you'd think these CDs were recorded
in Memphis, Biloxi or some other port of call beneath the
None of these discs is going to hit the Billboard charts.
Sales probably are measured in the hundreds, not thousands.
But all are worth a listen. As Duda writes on the CD cover
to "Instrumental Telepathy," "The next good thing is often
overlooked while waiting for The Next Big Thing."
10 Reasons to Buy Local Music
by Rege Behe, Tribune Review, 10-15-1999
"Soul Kiss" - Tom Duda
just in: Local musician makes smart, intelligent blues album
that avoids cliches. Tom Duda's "Soul Kiss" is one
of those unexpected surprises that literally comes out of left
field - or Latrobe, in this case. Filled with lyrical twists
and unexpected insights, Duda's strength is his compositional
skills. "Someone Get Me
Outta Here" has the feel of a Randy Newman tune and is just
as witty. Any band that has ever booked a gig without checking
a venue can relate to the lines:
got this stripper,
She weighs 300 pounds.
Big ugly bouncer going 15 rounds.
They got these hoods
Hangin' out at the bar
They call them faces,
I call them scars.
Other highlights include the horn-driven "Deliver Me" and the
Stones-like "Hi-Heel Blues." And though, in my opinion, Duda's
vocals aren't especially strong, that weakness is mitigated by
muscular songwriting and some delightful backup vocals by Yolanda
Barber and Dannie Vasser, especially on the reggae-tinged "Love's
A Four Letter Word."
Out of touch, out of time, out of synch, out of mind
Musical profile - Tom Duda - The Independant - 11-22, 1995
the leaves change from lush, rich greens to majestic hues of
red, orange and yellow, it's time to retire the summer wardrobe and
unpack the winter garb. For me, this is a quiet time of reflection,
and during my Autumn rites, I don't want to be disturbed.
As my son made a dash for his room, I warned him, "Don't even think
of playing that stereo." I returned to the mountain of clothes, sorting
them into the "will I ever wear this again and will I ever fit into
this again" piles, when I heard music. I walked into Keith's room and
he jumped up from his bed saying, "I'll turn it down."
I said, "No, I want you to turn it up. Whose CD is that?" He handed
me Tom Duda's "Love Is King." I decided to take a break and "bond"
with my son. "Keith, did you know I used to hear this guy's band when
I was your age?"
14, Duda began playing the guitar, and since he began writing at
age 17, he has copyrighted well over 150 songs.
His music is a paradox because there is no common thread or familiar
strain between songs. It's not all rock, blues or country; but it
is all exceptionally good. The heart of rock and roll still beats
because originality and creativity pulsates through the veins of
musicians like Duda.
"Love Is King," various styles of music are composed and combined
to bring the listener a CD that touches every emotion.
"Desodorisant" is a beautiful instrumental with a rich, soulful sound.
"Lay the Cross on my Shoulder" is a mellow song that anyone who ever
had a heartbreak can identify with; yet the upbeat tunes, "Love is
King" and "Everything Looks Better in
the hope, anticipation and excitement of new romance.
rockin' "Big Red" and the soothing "Careless
received air time on local radio stations WDVE, WYEP and
Magic 97. "Personal Asylum," written in 1980
and included on Love Is King, proves Duda's music can withstand
the test of time, appealing to all ages.
More eager to give credit than take it, Duda praises those
who contributed their talent and time. Glancing over the album
jacket, names familiar to the local rock scene appear: Dave
Hanner, Al Snyder, Dave Walters, Chris Feliciani, Shirley Dragovich,
and Eddie "The King" Kistler. Art for the Love Is King
album cover was done by Sean Cary, a junior at Seton Hill College
majoring in art and minoring in music, graphic designs were
done by Chuck Trumbetta of CJT Graphic Design and the many
sides of Duda were captured in the photography of Earl Brown.
recordings are done locally at Gamut Productions in Latrobe, where
he works with TJ Wilkins and Robin Leachman Baluh. Wilkins and Baluh
have worked with over 400 artists in the past 12 years. A visit to
their studio is a mind-boggling adventure and education. Recording
a song is an intricate process that can take as little time as an
hour or longer than 40 hours.
Although a song is conceived by the writer, it begins to take form
and move as each performer contributes feelings to his individual
part. After changes, edits and mixes are complete, a new song is
Recordings can be done live or performed on a computerized keyboard
and stored for future use. "I rely mostly on live performances,
but would never exclude the use of any technology that could enhance
a recording," explained Duda. "I'm not a purist."
one reason Duda's music is never stale is because there
is so much of himself in his work. He writes, produces,
sings and arranges his own music.
"I've written songs in as little as a half-hour," he said. "I
don't have to deal with a deadline; therefore an album
is finished when I say it is, or when I have enough songs I like."
His previous recordings include "A View From The Grille" (1985), and
"For A Lifetime" (1990).
Duda calls himself "small-town Tommy D" and "hitless wonder." Actually,
he is a quiet, sensitive man who shares his feelings and exposes
his emotions in his music. His motivation doesn't come from money,
power or fame, merely the satisfaction of a piece of good work.
Every picture tells a story; so does a song. "The Living Song" will
be on Duda's next album. In it, he pays homage to fellow musician Gregg
"Benny" Bendix, a former guitarist/vocalist for the band
Gravel who was killed in a 1977 auto accident. The band (which later
became Corbin-Hanner Band) performed a benefit for Benny a few weeks
later, but Duda was unable to attend, although the loss of his friend
weighed heavily on his mind.
"If ever a song was written by inspiration, it was this song," said
Duda. "I wrote The Living Song in May of '77, sitting at home
while Corbin Hanner Band performed a benefit concert for Benny."
"I never recorded this song because I somehow felt I didn't know
him well enough and I didn't want to offend those who knew him better
by writing a song about their close friend. But the song is for anyone
who has lost someone close - and who hasn't?"