New Jersey Stage
New Jersey Stage on social media

For great Jersey music and much more, tune into our radio station at

Bill Toms

By Gary Wien

Bill Toms, the long-time Pittsburgh rocker and former member of Joe Grushecky and the Houserockers will return to Asbury Park for a show at The Saint on Saturday, March 19. New Jersey Stage caught up with Bill via email to talk about the show, his new record, and surviving as an independent artist.

According to your website, the new cd has been recorded and is in the mixing stage. Have you been playing the new songs live during your shows or are you holding off a bit until the CD is released?
A little of both. A couple songs actually developed through the live performance. But I will hold a few back and wait for the CD to be released.

What can fans expect with the new disc?
Gospel, soul, blues, and rock and roll. All the American influences on our musical culture wrapped around lyrics that seem to use characters who are searching for enlightenment, even though there may not be an answer.

Have you come up with the title yet?
Possibly "I'm getting Closer". But still throwing things around in my brain.

To produce this CD, you sought help from your fans. How did the fundraising go?
Ok. We are still raising money. There is a "Get Involved' page at for people to see what they will receive for their involvement. We have enough to pay the producer and some recording, but still are a long way away with costs in mastering,promotion, etc.

What do you think of the way artists are using the Internet and live shows to get fans involved in projects like this?
It's the way the industry is. Record labels are not the strength behind the music like they once were. That's good in a way, but it puts all the pressure on the artist to develop a fan base. No more artist development from the labels.

Will Kimbrough produced this past record for you. Many fans around here are very familiar with his work with artists like Todd Snider. What was it like working with him?
Will has brought to me the vision of someone who is outside my normal circle of people I work with. He understood that I was not here to make a big 'Rock' record, but I wanted a soulful, passionate CD that could be played next to all the Stax, Chess, Muscle Sholes stuff ... He did not come with any of my past projects banging around his head. I really needed that in a producer.

You'll be returning to Asbury Park on Saturday, March 19 with a show at The Saint. You played Asbury Park many times while in Joe Gruschecky's band and have performed several solo shows there as well. I think Gruschecky sort of considers Asbury Park a home away from home for him, what do you think of the town and its music fans?
I play all over, and don't get to the area as much anymore. When I do it's more of a listening crowd because I am playing mostly acoustic. I think the people here have been very open to this. It's more important to connect on that lyrical level for me, or at least a good portion of my music is presented that way. I will bring a trio into the Saint for the show on the 19th. We will give the fans an intimate performance with a tent revival attitude...

Speaking of the Houserockers, you spent nearly two decades in the band. How did working with Joe and playing shows around the world help your career?
You are always working in a place that your past has taken you. I always try to learn from all the experiences I have been lucky enough to have. The problem with starting a solo career is the preconceived ideas people have about you based on what you did before.

Did it help you build a fanbase in many areas you probably wouldn't have reached otherwise?
I believe it has given me the opportunity to get in front of an audience. I needed to connect if this thing was going to grow. Kind of a scary time, but we got through. I feel very blessed to have what I have. I present my music in many ways. this is something I wanted to do for a very long time.

One such area you've been able to tour is Italy, which inspired "A Troubadours Journey" - a documentary shot during your 2008 Italian tour. What was it like to go through that process and what did you think of the film in the end?
I thought the film was well done. It's hard to judge... With a low budget, Jane Marino really did a great job. I was not out to make a film. It was her idea and direction. I just said, please don't make a film about how wonderful Bill Toms is. She made the documentary with the idea that this was a group of people in a different country trying to connect. There is not a lot of glamour. It is pretty funny at times as well...

As an independent artist, you've got to be open to new ideas. On your website you mention house concerts - I was wondering if you have done many house concerts. If so, how do those shows differ for you from playing in a club?
I do many house concerts. When you are on the road and the only ammo you have is an acoustic guitar, a house concert is an oasis of musical integrity. No bar noise, no drunks, no one in the mens room telling you they like the loud guitar songs better...

Do you enjoy the intimacy of house concerts?
It's easier to make the connection with people that want to be there for the music, and not because it's a place where you can pick up chicks, or guys...

You also provide guitar lessons and do songwriter workshops and clinics. Are you able to make a living solely through music or do you hold down a 9 to 5 as well?
I make my living, or what I call a living in music full time. I find that teaching is so much more rewarding as I get older and feel I can pass on a bit of experience to my students..

Finally, as if you weren't busy enough, you began hosting a weekly radio show last September. How do you like being a dj?
I love it. Not sure how good I am. But people seem to like it. I try to be prepared. I also use it to maybe play things and talk about artists in ways that haven't been done.

What's your show like?
It is all about the American landscape and its musical history. From blues, soul, rock and roll, country, folk, jazz, etc. Sometimes we as North Americans forget about all this. We get too caught up in the pop sounds and the big business of things.

Do you spin music?
I spin and program the whole hour. Goes by pretty fast actually.

Interview any artists?
Sometimes. If someone is coming through town and are staying at my house, they get dragged off to the studio on Monday night.

Ever perform your own songs during the show?
Never..It's about me being a DJ. The kind I use to hear as a kid. The kind that had input. We don't see the DJ's or writers like that. The ones with opinion. Lester Bangs would never make it today. Of course we have the internet..Monday Nights at 10pm EST "In The Dark' - The Bill Toms Radio Hour.

You can see Bill Toms perform at the Saint in Asbury Park, NJ on Saturday, March 19. The show is a special Asbury Cafe acoustic show with no talking allowed during the performances. The night also features sets by Christopher McKeon from The Afterbangs, John Alberici, and special guests. Doors open at 6pm. Admission is $10 in advance or $13 at the door.

For more by this author, click here

Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme Presents Patrick Fitzsimmons On December 16
(SUCCASUNNA, NJ) -- Riverside Rhythm and Rhyme (RR&R) presents Patrick Fitzsimmons on Sunday, December 16 from 4:00pm to 6:00pm at the Investors Bank Theatre in Succasunna. Tickets are $20 for general admission; $15 for RAA/SSG/JAM members; and free for those under 18.
Outpost in the Burbs Presents Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams
(MONTCLAIR, NJ) -- Outpost in the Burbs presents Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams on Saturday, December 8th at 8:00pm at the First Congregational Church, 40 South Fullerton Avenue.  Opening the show will be New York City-based singer-songwriter Leslie Mendelson. Outpost volunteers will be accepting donations of new, unwrapped toys for the holiday season for Toys for Tots at the show.
Jann Klose and The Voice's Josett Diaz To Perform At Ethical Brew To Benefit A Cause Close To Home
(TEANECK, NJ) -- On Saturday, December 8th, singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jann Klose will perform at Ethical Brew on behalf of Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, a community arts and cultural center for children and teens located in Bronx, New York.  Doors open at 7:30, show begins at 8:00pm.
Kenny Chesney To Perform At Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
(ATLANTIC CITY, NJ) -- Focusing on smaller venues and markets not directly impacted by his massive stadium tours, Kenny Chesney sought to make his Songs for the Saints 2019 Tour mirror the intimacy of its namesake album. Inspired by the resilience of the people around him, Chesney doubles down on the human connection for his 2019 tour by seeking those members of No Shoes Nation who have spent the past decade and a half making the trip to stadium markets for what is now a summer tradition. On Saturday, May 11, 2019 he brings the tour to Hard Rock Live at Etess Arena in Atlantic City, NJ.
State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze
(NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ) -- State Theatre New Jersey presents Cirque Dreams Holidaze on Friday, December 7 at 8:00pm, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm and 8:00pm, and Sunday, December 9 at 2:00pm. Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a division of Cirque du Soleil, has become a critically acclaimed, state-of-the-art Broadway musical, and a fun-filled, holiday family show. Tickets range from $35-$98.

"Great Music!" Tavares and Harold Melvin's Blue Notes LIVE! at the Strand Theater
The music of the 1970s is alive and well this Saturday, November 3, 2018 at Lakewood, NJ’s Strand Theater with a concert by the ’70’s R&B and soul groups Tavares and Harold Melvin’s Blue Notes!
"An Amazing Musical Genius!" Brian Wilson LIVE! at the State Theatre
In the music room in the back of our house, there’s an electric bass and amp, two acoustic guitars, a microphone and PA speakers, several pieces of music recording equipment, and a bookcase filled with books on music, not to mention a slew of assorted music memorabilia. But, perhaps, one of the most highly prized items in the room is hanging directly above the piano next to the college music diplomas.
Jazz Saxophonist Don Braden LIVE! at Toms River’s Grunin Center
It’s a breezy day for a new installment of the Jazz On a Sunday Afternoon concert series at Toms River, NJ’s Grunin Center of the Arts this Sunday Oct. 27, 2018 afternoon. Today’s special 3pm performance is entitled Earth, Wind and Wonder and is presented by jazz saxophonist Don Braden.
Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge LIVE! at The Strand, Lakewood
The stars are out this Saturday Oct. 26, 2018 evening in Lakewood, NJ for a “Golden Oldies” concert featuring Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, The Classics IV, and The Brooklyn Bridge!
PODCAST: Grammy Winner Terri Lyne Carrington At TD James Moody Jazz Festival
Drummer, leader, and composer Terri Lyne Carrington made history as the first woman to win a Grammy for Best Instrumental Jazz for her album “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.” Now, she brings her interpretation of Duke Ellington’s “Money Jungle” to the TD James Moody Jazz Festival at NJPAC on November 11, 2018, as part of a program called “Jazz Vinyl Revisited.” Producer Susan Wallner talks to Carrington about her connections to the jazz greats Clark Terry and Max Roach; her newest project, the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice; and why she thinks drummers make natural leaders.

Event calendar
Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018

The Madness of George III @ Bickford Theatre at the Morris Museum, Morristown - 2:00pm and 7:00pm


Warren Miller’s Face of Winter @ Mayo Performing Arts Center (MPAC), Morristown - 7:30pm

View all events

New Jersey Stage © 2018 by Wine Time Media, LLC | PO Box 140, Spring Lake, NJ 07762 (732) 280-7625 |

Images used on this site have been sent to us from publicists, artists, and PR firms.
If there is a problem with the rights to any image, please contact us and we will look into the matter.