Alternative; Folk; Indie Rock
Feb 16, 2023
Tom Ciurczak ("Sir-zak") is a singer/songwriter originally from New York, now based in Orange County, California, just south of Los Angeles. His influences include Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend, and the Beatles. He has always been intrigued by the art of storytelling through songs. Being a New Yorker he is drawn to offbeat and colorful characters, whom he includes in his songs. His first album, CALL ME ISHMAEL, was released in 2020, and a follow-up is in the work.
In his own words:
"I'm a native New Yorker now living in the Los Angeles area. Along with a million other young kids growing up in the 60's, I was bitten by the music bug on Feb 9, 1964 when The Beatles first appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show. To me that was the “Big Bang” that started it all. The next day I picked up a guitar and have been playing and writing music ever since.
I grew up in a musical environment, where my father was a professional musician for the Military Academy Band at West Point New York. All the musicians lived in the same area on the base, so throughout the day the entire place was filled with amazing sounds and rhythms. It had a big impact on me. I can still hear the music from the old neighborhood in my head every day. By the time I got to high school, I was performing with various bands in the Mid-Hudson Valley area of New York. However, I quickly lost interest in playing just cover songs, and started on the path that turned into a lifelong passion for songwriting.
I don’t believe you can just wake up one morning and decide you’re going to be a songwriter. It is an art form like no other that combines, music, storytelling, rhythms, and emotion. Songwriting, as with any craft, requires a lot of dedication and effort to get good at. The thing that impressed me the most about the Beatles from that “Ed Sullivan” show were their songs. Unlike so many other teens of that era who were obsessed with becoming virtuoso guitarists and singers, I was instead drawn to the” song writing” aspect of music. And I have worked on it every day since my early teens.
My influences include everything from A-Z in rock and country, especially Bruce Springsteen, Steve Earle, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend and of course the Beatles. I've always been intrigued by the art of storytelling through songs. Being a New Yorker I guess I'm drawn to offbeat and colorful characters, so lyrically I like to include them in my songs. I enjoy putting them in unusual situations to engage the listener in the story and then I often try to add a third act twist, to provide an element of surprise.
I relocated to the West Coast in my early twenties and put any live performing aside to raise a family and pursue a career in Lighting, I traveled the world extensively, visiting lighting factories throughout Europe and Asia, making many lifelong friends in the process. And thoroughly enjoyed it. I was instrumental in building three highly successful companies in the world of “Specialty Lighting”: Osram, Ushio, and my own company BLC International. But even as my career took off, I never stopped working at writing songs. Then one morning I woke up and realized I had 40 years’ worth of notebooks filled with them that might never see the light of day. So I decided it was time to do something with all the music I had been keeping under wraps.
In 2014 I attended Steve Earle’s Songwriter’s “Master Class and Retreat”, everyone there was a kindred spirit. I felt like I found my lost tribe, all with the same love and passion for song writing. This was the spark that put everything into motion and motivated me to finally go out and start recording some of the vast collection of songs I'd been building up.
My daughter Kelly, who has a Professional Acapella Group in LA, introduced me to their sound engineer, . It turned out that, Brett had worked on some early Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon albums which couldn’t have been a better fit for my style of music and we hit it off immediately. He in turn brought in producer/drummer Stephen Haaker to produce it and we were on our way.
The three of us mapped out the plans for my 2020 Album “Call Me Ishmael”. We were then able to assemble an “A” team of LA musicians to play on the album. It was amazing how we were able to bring all these songs to life from their acoustic beginnings to the full electric version. It took six months to record and every session was an absolute thrill ride. I could see why so many musicians truly love the studio.
Additionally, I was honored to have Grammy-winning® engineer, Emily Lazar, to master it. She had three albums up for Album of the Year at the 2021 Grammy’s, so we were in very good company. I’ve often said success is based on “Hard Work, Luck and Timing” and I couldn’t have been luckier to meet Brett and Stephen. CALL ME ISHMAEL went on to great success, reaching the top 150 on the AMA charts and spawning two very well-regarded singles, “Roll the Dice,” and “Mine Torne Road.” Unfortunately, the timing of the release wasn’t the best, as we released it in the middle of the COVID shutdown, but as Meatloaf said “Two out of Three Ain’t Bad”
The following year, I had an idea for a Christmas song, so in the Summer of 2021 we all headed back to FrogTown Studios to record “Christmas Time in Hollywood,” as well as the single, “Leave it to the Universe.” The results were fantastic, as both wound up being played on over 250 radio stations in US and Europe. And it looks like “Christmas Time in Hollywood” could become a staple of holidayradio and Spotify playlists going forward..
Most artists have trouble coming up with material for their second album. But in my case, that’s not an issue, and most likely never will be. With so many songs written and ready to record, Brett, Stephen and myself headed back into the studio in the summer of 2022 to record a follow up album to CALL ME ISHMAEL. Once again, we recruited the best musicians in LA to play on it and the so far results have been spectacular.
Currently the new album is slated to be released early in 2023.
In the meantime please stop by to catch me performing locally in Orange County, you can check my schedule for upcoming places and times.
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