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Steelin' Crazy Rhythm

So what does the pedal steel guitar have to do with jazz?     Plenty…
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Musician Tom Hammel has combined his love of the pedal steel guitar and western swing and jazz music to create this 12-song album. It consists of mostly instrumental covers and one new song, “Out of Odessa”, written especially for the album. Hammel has been playing, writing, and recording music for decades with local Vancouver roots bands. 

It's a project that delves into some of the swinging music of 1930s and 40s western swing bands; an era bands attracted huge crowds to dance halls and clubs.

Tom incorporates some non-traditional jazz instruments featuring the steel guitar, and incorporating accordion and ukulele to create a unique sound. This approach creates a fresh sound for some of the old jazz standards that the band performs.

Vancouver guitarist Paul Pigat lends his guitar mastery to the album on five tracks along with upright bassist Jeremy Holmes and drummer James Badger. Toronto jazz singer Alex Pangman, Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing contributes her expressive and playful vocal styling to the song It’s All Your Fault.

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Artists involved with the recording

Guitar-Paul Pigat

Paul lends his guitar mastery to this album on five of the tracks. The immediately recognizable sound of his distinctive guitar playing has led to him compiling a list of credits that would be the envy of anyone in the music business. Paul has shared the stage and lent his guitar mastery to some fine musicians over the years such as Jeff Beck, Jackob Dylan, Michael Kaeshammer, Albert Lee, James Burton, Brian Setzer, The Reverend Horton Heat, Neko Case, Jim Byrnes, The Sojourners, and Carolyn Mark.

Vocals-Alex Pangman

Alex Pangman is featured on the new album in the classic western swing song “It’s All Your Fault”. Hammel has been a big fan since her debut album ‘they say’ was released in 1999. Proudly known as ‘Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing’, her natural vocal abilities and deep appreciation for the classic jazz era have earned her a place in our nation’s heart. With pipes aplenty, Juno nominee Pangman possesses the requisite taste, talent and the historical knowledge of an avid record collector to breathe new life into the sturdy standards of the classic jazz era.


Bass-Jeremy Holmes

Jeremy is a bass player and songwriter who has recorded and played with such diverse artists as David Hidalgo, Jim Byrnes, Big Dave McLean, Joey (Sh*thead) Keithley of DOA, John Hammond, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Russell DeCarle, Roxanne Potvin, Colin James, Jill Barber, Kat Danser, Cousin Harley (Paul Pigat), Michael Kaeshammer, John Reischman, Aaron Pritchett, Christa Couture, CR Avery, Hannah Georgas, Matt Patershuk, Haram and Michael Buble. He has recorded, toured, and worked on many award-winning projects with Steve Dawson for over a decade. He has also worked with producers including Howard Redekopp (Teagan And Sara), Ryan Guldemond (Mother Mother), Jesse Zubot (Tanya Tagaq), John Raham (Frazey Ford), Chon (DOA) and Darryl Neudorf (Neko Case).

Drums-James Badger

Sadly, we lost James suddenly in November, 2020. He was a true talent, friend and supporter of the arts in Vancouver, BC. Specializing in roots-style music, he enjoyed playing old country, blues, rockabilly, New Orleans-style, R&B and old rock & roll. His nickname was “Hollywood Jimmie” because he’s so NOT Hollywood.

Performance and recording credits include: Juno-nominated James Buddy Rogers, Long John Baldry, Jimmy D Lane, Juno-winner Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne, Harpdog Brown, Steve Kozak, JJ Lavallee, The Rocket Revellers, DerbyTown, Lonesome Sinners, Bill Hills & The Fabulous Aces plus many others.


More on the Album

With the rise of COVID-19 and a pause in the live music scene, Hammel thought this would be a great time to collaborate with some of Canada’s finest jazz and swing musicians to produce an album of his favourite western swing and jazz tunes. With some diligence and learning on everyone’s part, the remote recording hurdles were cleared successfully to create this music. “I’m amazed at how the contributions of these wonderful artists has elevated the music on this album, and I am grateful that they have shared their talents in this way”, notes Hammel.

 The album is available digitally on Bandcamp and your usual digital sites. It was self-produced by Tom Hammel who recorded, mixed, and mastered it at Tiki Studios in Langley, BC.


 The arrangements are always innovative, like the accordion that echoes the steel on Sydney Bechet’s Si Tu Vois Ma Mere. It’s very well-produced and reminded me of the quality of Noel Boggs Quintet’s Magic Steel Guitar. Album Review in "Jumpin' from 6 to 6" magazine

Steelin’ Crazy Rhythm is the jazziest Western swing album I’ve heard in a long time.  The musicians, recorded remotely from across Canada during the pandemic, all impress as they join to create a sound with depth and layers, several of those layers being Hammel himself who variously plays pedal steel guitar, accordion, electric and acoustic guitars, and ukulele Album review in The Syncopated Times, Utica, NY

Great job on capturing the feel & essence of hard driving Western Swing... I can almost hear Tiny [Moore, mandolin player for Bob Wills] sitting in with you all.  John York, Past president, Western Swing Music Society BC

 The performances are superb. Paul [Paul Pigat, guitar] is, of course, his usual brilliant self on the tracks he plays on; as your steel playing matches those high standards, the results are pretty damn exciting! I also really dig the accordion added to some numbers, particularly on Si Tu Vois Ma Mere, answering the steel lines, and on What Is This Thing Called Love, with its extended 3-way riff near the end. You've found new things to contribute to some old favourites of mine, such as Steelin’ Home, and Mission To Moscow; and Cherry proves an excellent choice for a new adaptation. But even more impressive, I think, are the ballads: delicate, forceful, and emotional, all at the same time. your “feel” for these tunes is outstanding, and a bit of an eye-opener. The more I listen, the more good things I hear: a great set of recordings, with not a single second-rate tune in the bunch. Dave Schroeder, Owner East Records, Vancouver, BC

"Your album is brilliant" Chema Valbuena, DJ, El Refugio Perdido Radio Show, Leon, Spain

 "Bob would say aww" Western Swing Music Of Texas FB Page

"...Tom Hammel is a local steel guitar player and quite a good one too"   Paul Norton, In The Pines Radio Show, COOP Radio, Vancouver, BC

Langley Advance Times, October 26, 2020 Story here