I suppose that very few of us finish up in the sort of careers that we originally intended; Tom Burris was no different. Originally he intended to write for a living; after first landing a job in Boston as a teacher of creative writing he began work on his first novel but like many, many budding novelists it never quite happened because something else came along and that's something else was singing/songwriting. Unfortunately there is not really a recognized career path for a budding singer/songwriter so his first job in the music industry, if you can call it that, while busking in Harvard Square, to the accompaniment of his acoustic guitar until moving up in the pecking order a few notches by forming the first incarnation of his indie rock trio Jabbering Trout. Together they went out on tour and built up a good solid fan base particularly in their home base of Boston and even got as far as producing two CDs which they sold themselves after their gigs; despite this though the much dreamed of big breakthrough didn't come and Tom, having become a published author in the meanwhile, decided that he might as well move back to his old home town of New York and do other things with his life. The problem is that writing and singing songs was in his blood and it was not long before he was back in front of audiences again, first as a solo artist and then with another incarnation of Jabbering Trout; his fame spread mainly as a result of word of mouth and eventually he was persuaded to issue his first solo album, For Sale, under the Tomato label by producer John Alagia who tracked him down after listening to one of his CDs and deciding that here was a new unique talent that could push music through new barriers.
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What is the secret of Burris' success? Firstly there was a very good reason for him wanting to be a writer initially; he loves a good story and many of his songs are based on facts, real or imaginary, rather than emotions. Secondly he has a raw enthusiasm which is completely infectious; he puts all his power into a performance and encourages the audience to show the same energy as he does. Thirdly though and possibly the most important; his music is easy to remember and easy to hum or whistle. After all, there is no point in writing a great piece if no one can ever remember it afterwards!
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