The Godfather of Folk: Local musician, radio show host, and concert promoter has music in his veins
Tom Agostino, a guitarist, singer and member of the folk/acoustic group Soul Creek, said he can't remember a time when he wasn't interested in music.
"Even at five years old, I would sing at the top of my lungs around the house and walk to school singing," said Agostino, who grew up in Brooklyn. "As a teen, I took up guitar as a way to meet girls and I've been performing since then. I liked singer songwriters James Taylor and Jackson Browne."
Agostino, who has recorded three albums, said his greatest influences are singer/songwriters such as Bruce Cockburn, Taylor and Browne - "the guys who did it all," and he can't get enough of Van Morrison's sound.
"On my last album, all but two songs I wrote," said Agostino about "Seven Rivers" which he released in 2009.
Agostino said he's getting ready to record another album with Soul Creek and other collaborators.
Soul Creek, which performs around Prescott, can be seen Feb. 16 at the Gilbert Folk Festival, in Prescott on March 7 opening for Carrie Rodriguez' show at Prescott Center for the Arts, and March 22 at the Glendale Folk Festival.
"Being onstage, singing and connecting with an audience is what its all about," Agostino said. "Playing with other performers and interacting with each other is a joy."
Making music that's relevant to people at where they are in their lives is rewarding, Agostino said.
"Concert goers here are a very sophisticated audience, and they support good music," Agostino said. "They know and respond to music, and from a musician's point of view, they really get it."
Agostino, who hosts Folk Sessions Live! on KJAZZ Radio Network, also lived in Los Angeles and moved to Prescott about 10 years ago.
"When I moved here, people told me about the folk festival at Sharlot Hall," Agostino said. "I got involved recording people performing and brought them back to do over the air interviews."
Back then, KJAZZ, which can be heard at 90.1 FM in Prescott and the Tri-Cities and 89.5 FM from Prescott to the Grand Canyon, had a blues show and radio theater.
When Agostino approached them about a show featuring folk, they asked him to host, Alexa MacDonald joined him, and The Folk Sessions began in 2002.
Since then, the Saturday night show has featured music that originated around campfires, church halls and honky-tonks and has had more than 350 musical guests, including Tom Chapin, Rosanne Cash, Jack Williams, Gypsy Soul, Laurie Lewis, and Denise Franke.
"We're speaking out into the ether, and you never know who will call in to talk," Agostino said. "It could be someone who is listening while driving on the highway, at home, or working. We love making that personal connection."
The show, which can be heard on the Internet on AMAZRadio.com or listened to live at www.kjazzfm.org, features a wide range of music from Carrie Rodriguez, Sarah McQuaid, Ben Kyle, Antje Duverot, Suze Brown, Emily Pinkerton, The Honey Dewdrops, Gurf Morlix, Jim Byrnes, Canadian Blues Mann, Meg Hutchinson, and Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart.
On May 4, Folk Sessions will hold a 10-year anniversary concert at Prescott Center for the Arts, and a sacred music festival is being planned for the fall.
The area's reputation for great audiences helps Agostino attracts musicians and promotes concerts in Prescott.
"We get inquiries by high-profile musicians who come to Phoenix to perform, and call to say, 'we've heard about this series you did and we'd like to play there,'" Agostino said.
Artists such as Tom Chapin, the Honey Dewdrops and Carrie Rodriguez who perform in Phoenix often call to see if they can pick up a show here, Agostino said.
"National artists who come here say they're among the best audiences, and they love to come play here," Agostino said.