Tom Holland & The Shuffle Kings
About the Artist
Tom Holland grew up on Chicago’s south side and was influenced by the city’s rich jazz and blues heritage from a very young age. His father’s love of music and vast record collection was the catalyst for Tom’s love of music, especially blues. Tom began playing guitar at age 13, learning by listening to Muddy Waters tapes, LPs, and CDs. Tom cites Muddy Waters, Earl Hooker, John Primer & Magic Slim as his greatest influences. By the time Tom turned 18 he was ready to start learning from the musicians on the Chicago blues scene.
"Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings are THE torchbearers of traditional Chicago blues."
Tom started playing professionally in Chicago at age 19, landing his first gig with L.V. Banks, in a beauty salon on Chicago’s south side. Tom worked with L.V. Banks on and off for four years. It was also during this time that Tom was introduced to Muddy Waters last guitarist, John Primer. John took Tom under his wing, and proceeded to give Tom an education in blues guitar. Tom toured the United States and Canada for 2 years with John as a member of his band, the Real Deal Blues Band. Tom also recorded a CD with John during his time in the band, recorded in 1998, “It’s a Blues Life” on Wolf Records, was Tom’s first time in a recording studio, and certainly not his last. It was also during this time that Tom formed the first incarnation of the Shuffle Kings, to fill in for John during down time when John toured Europe. As the year 2000 approached, Tom’s reputation as one of the top sidemen in Chicago signaled time for a change.
In late 1999 Tom was asked to join Chicago blues guitarist Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater’s band. Tom toured with Eddy Clearwater for three years as bandleader, and toured across the U.S., Canada, and made his first trip to Europe. It was during this time that his status as one of Chicago’s top sidemen was solidified, also freelancing with Carey Bell, Phil Guy, A.C. Reed, Atlanta vocalist Sandra Hall, and countless other Chicago bluesmen and women. During this time Tom also returned to the studio, contributing slide guitar to two tracks on Sandra Hall’s 2001 release “Miss Red Riding Hood”. As well as recording with Eddy Clearwater (yet to be released), and Deak Harp (“Gateway to the Blues, 2002, self release). In 2001, between tours with Eddy Clearwater, Tom began to focus more on the Shuffle Kings, and by late 2002 was touring full time with the Shuffle Kings. In October of 2002 the band recorded their CD, titled Tom Holland & the Shuffle Kings, it garnered the band radio airplay in many states, and praise from both critics and fans alike.
In November of 2003, Tom was approached by harp legend James Cotton, who was in need of a guitar player. Tom accepted and toured with James for 11 years. Tom played on both of James Cotton’s Grammy Nominated releases, Giant, and Cotton Mouth Man, both on Alligator Records. In 2013 Tom took the band back into the studio, recording No Fluff, Just the Stuff, on his own E Natchel Records imprint. 2013 also saw Tom inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame.