Our next Swag Spotlight is focused on highlighting another local New York country artist, Tommy Cole. Born and raised in Northeast Ohio, Cole explains in a recent interview that his town was a blue-collar, steel town, and although it wasn’t the nicest place in the world, it was a great place to call home. Growing up with a vast array of musical influences, Cole listened to everything from Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin, to Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood, to 70’s rock music. He recalls playing his very first cassette tape, which just happened to be Trisha Yearwood’s, “She’s In Love With the Boy,” and spending endless hours watching Garth Brooks VHS tapes.
When making his decision to play baseball or pursue a music career through theatre he laughs and explains, “I was an 18-year-old boy who wanted to have fun and chase girls, so of course, I decided to go play baseball.” While playing catcher for the team, fate stepped in when Cole discovered his friend and the team’s pitcher also played the guitar. The two quickly formed a duo, playing local gigs and bars around their college town. Eventually, they recorded an EP, Southern Boulevard and spent the summers through school on the road.
After graduating college, Cole took the leap to move to Nashville, ready to pursue his singing career once and for all. He recorded his first solo artist EP, My Kinda Crowd and spent three years on the road up and down the east coast.
Something happened when he moved to that magical town, he realized that although he loved singing, he found a passion for learning the craft of songwriting. “I moved down there to be a singer, it was all I knew, I didn’t know how to play guitar, I didn’t know how to write a song really, I wrote some, but they were awful,” he explained “I played out on the town on Broadway for the first two years, did nothing but play 8-12 hour sets and I had a guy come up to me and tell me I was really good, but I had to start writing songs.”
He also learned that being a great singer doesn’t always mean being the loudest or the biggest voice. “I wanted to belt and be as loud as I could be, but the real proof that you are good is not blowing it up, but being able to be real quiet in a song and have everyone hang on every word,” he tells us, referencing some of his now favorite influences, Sean McConnell, Charlie Worsham, and David Nail.