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Thomas Wakefield

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Thomas Wakefield

At age five, piano lessons were a weekly staple in Thomas’ life. At age ten the trumpet was added to his studies as the primary instrument, and it was during this time that he discovered two of his lifelong influences: Louis Armstrong and Dizzy Gillespie. By the age of fourteen, the teenage rock-n-roll bug had bitten him. Thomas purchased his first guitar after years of peeking into his father’s Gretsch guitar case and ogling the old Martin that sat on a stand beside the piano. Like many teens, he explored the popular music of his peers, but his true interest laid in improvisational jazz and blues. Largely self taught, he studied as much jazz theory and technique as he could find, thoroughly immersing himself in the styles of the great guitar artists by ear and transcription. Before leaving high school, the fledgling guitarist had won an award for his performance at the Smoky Mountain Music Festival. Through college, Thomas composed and performed with the regional rock and roll band, Hit and Run, as well as Kingfish Crawl, a local blues favorite. As an anthropologist, one of his primary focuses is ethnomusicology, and he has extensively studied the BATA drumming of Cuba and its roots with the Lukumi’s music of western Nigeria. In recent days he has redirected his ethnomusicological gaze to gypsy swing and jazz manouche. It is within this marriage of music and anthropology that Thomas has found his mission! Thomas continues to compose and teach private lessons, workshops and instructional clinics. In addition, he has designed and performed a number of special lecture/performances for schools and universities that focus on the history and culture of Gypsy swing and early blues and jazz. Thomas is the owner of and principal instructor at Ashland Music Academy, Director of Music at Benedictine High School, and contributing author/journalist for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine. Thomas has been a Dell’Arte guitar endorser, performed at the Stonehaven Folk Festival in Scotland, and most recently was nominated for the 2009 Virgina Commission of the Arts’ Heritage Award.

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