Tom Larsen- mindful of his words, purposeful of his music
Mindful of his words and purposeful of his music, Tom Larsen, 26, attributes the success of cultural integration in communities to music – primarily the blues.
On a trip to Chicago with his father, a thirteen year old Tom received his first sampler CD with music from Buddy Guy and Koko Taylor. After listening to the CD a countless amount of times, Tom said, “I started to play along with it, learning the language of the music by ear”.
While Tom certainly appreciates the culture behind music, he ultimately chose the blues because, “in terms of substance, it just HAD substance”. Tom does not discriminate against certain genres, but he will carefully discern whether or not they're creating their music with integrity and ‘good-craftsmanship’. He said, “With blues, the intent is unquestionable”.
At nineteen, Tom went to France to attend the Django Reinhardt Festival. As a culturally Gypsy, Jazz festival, Tom’s perspective on music and culture was shifted during his time spent there. He said, “At the festival you’ll have a skilled 25 year old blowing everyone’s mind with his music, with a 12 year old girl just playing random sounds, no clue what she’s doing. But, they’ll play together at the festival. How do we create that?” For Tom, this is what building culture through music is all about.
But Tom is on the forefront of this very reality. Living in Crown Heights for most of his four years in Brooklyn, Tom has seen an obvious shift in the community. For Tom, the way to really gain perspective on one’s community and culture is through music; “I’ve always liked our neighborhood. I love the architecture, the buildings are beautiful. It’s an interesting thing to talk about, we’re definitely gentrifying. How do we look at that? What are the implications? I don’t have answers for that”.
Perhaps, through resident musicians attending and performing at events like, For Locals By Locals, cultures can be better understood, and communities can integrate the various backgrounds they house. “We have a unique opportunity here. It’s definitely budding into something”.
Article by: Alexandra Coffey
Photos By: Ruvi Leider Photography