Next Saturday, one week from tomorrow, you have the chance to catch the Tom Mahan band in action at JB’s on 41 with a free live concert. The Tom Mahan Band kicks off the night at 9 pm on Saturday, May 21, and, to get ready for the event, we interviewed Tom Mahan to find out just what to expect from the band and the show.
JB’s on 41: Tell me about the Tom Mahan Band.
Tom Mahan: We’ve been together for about 3 years, but I’ve been playing in bands since the mid-80s. Us three core members of the group got together through a mutual friend. And here we are!
JB’s: Tell me about you.
TM: I started playing guitar when I was 12 – I got a guitar for Christmas. It just progressed from there, and I got more into it as I got older. I learned things from different people, from friends who played. In about 1986, I joined my first band. I’ve been in lots of bands since then, and it all culminated to create the Tom Mahan Band. That’s why the band is named the Tom Mahan Band: before, I was mostly in bands along for the ride. Now, I know what kind group I want.
JB’s: Introduce us to your fellow band members. Describe them in one word.
TM: We have 3 core members of the band, but we do have up to 5 people play in a show. There’s me, with lead guitar, lead vocals, and songwriting our original songs. Then there’s Bill Weaver on bass and backup vocals. Describe him in one word? I’d say he’s “Glue.” The glue of the music. Kevin Henkel is our drummer. I’d call him the “Back-beat.”
JB’s: Describe your genre.
TM: We’re rock and roll, but heavily blues influenced. We focus heavily on the guitar and instrumental work.
JB’s: Describe your show, visually and musically.
TM: 60% of the songs we do are originals. We do about 25-30 songs per night, depending on the songs we select. We do a lot of blues classics – think “Summertime” and Little Walter’s “My Babe.” We usually have someone on the harmonica for that song. Most songs are more obscure blues, not Top 40 stuff. We throw in Grateful Dead here or there, plus old rock and roll songs. We usually play for about four hours, with three 50-60 minute sets. At JB’s, though, we’re playing from 9 to midnight, three hours, so our sets will be a little different.
JB’s: What’s the best and worst thing about performing for a live concert?
TM: The best thing is when the band is really clicking and there’s a good sized crowd that is enthusiastic about what we’re doing. The worst is the exact opposite! It’s the worst when the band’s not clicking and no one is watching.
JB’s: What’s your favorite song to perform? Why?
TM: That changes from show to show, from to night to night. We’re really loving “Summertime” right now. We have this great instrumental version that we put together.
JB’s: Is this your first time performing at JB’s? What are you most looking forward to?
TM: It’s our first time, yes. We’re looking forward to a nice crowd and a nice venue with some space. When there’s a nice crowd and a nice venue, it’s a good time.
JB’s: Where can we find you next?
TM: Next up, we’re actually scheduled for a private party, a barefoot ski club. But on June 2nd, we’re doing an acoustic version of our show at the Radisson in Menomonee Falls.
JB’s: Anything else we should know about TMB?
TM: New performance dates pop up all the time, so keep an eye out. Look for our name around town: we’re usually mentioned on WMSE and listed in the Shepherd Express.
JB’s: Thanks for chatting with us.
TM: Hope to see you at the show!
We’re really looking to seeing this group perform at their live concert right here at JB’s on 41 in Milwaukee. Join us on May 21 at 9 pm for the Tom Mahan Band and enjoy some special deals, too! Check out our Facebook page for updates.