Tom Collins grew up in the Vermont woods hearing the raw, powerful fiddling of John Specker, who lived just down the road. As a former professional set drummer and instructor, Tom brings his keen rhythmic sense to the 5 string banjo. He currently resides in Salem, MA where he runs an acoustic music teaching studio, “Misery Island Sound,” which produces online content for students of traditional American music.
Tom is the creator of the ground-breaking banjo instructional series “Banjo Blitz,” a 52 week exploration of the building blocks of clawhammer banjo. His online instruction has recently achieved over 1 million watched minutes on YouTube. He is currently producing the instructional series “Banjo Quest” for YouTube and Patreon, where students learn how to apply the lessons learned in “Banjo Blitz” to traditional tunes. In particular, Tom has been fascinated by what makes the players from the historical Round Peak area of North Carolina so unique, and this will be reflected in his workshops at Fiddle Hell. Says Tom: "I approach old-time tunes with arrangement in mind. I want to tell a story with each tune. Even if it’s a simple dance tune, I want to use it to create a physical place or mood."
In 2016, Tom produced, and recorded: “Sinful to Flirt”, a banjo/fiddle duet album of traditional old time tunes with fiddler, Jon Anderson, to glowing reviews in the Banjo Newsletter and the Old Time Herald. "These are real old-time tunes played in a style that reminds me of the playing of those old folks—Tommy, Fred, Kyle, and so many more. Clean simple melody played by fiddle and banjo duet with singing that is in tune and nicely real without being rough or slick." - Dan Levenson in Banjo Newsletter.