Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson The Story from the Beginning to October 2003 Tom Vella of Westfield, NJ taught himself how to play the acoustic guitar when he was 22, the year was 1999. At first, he would simply thumb around songs of artists he liked and occasionally write originals as they came to him. Soon, pulling out his guitar and playing for friends at parties became commonplace. However, he believed that this would only be something he did for fun. In August of 2002, the owner of the Windsor Diner of Clark, NJ, (a cousin of a friend), requested that Tom, 'bring his guitar, his voice, and a few friends,' to help stir up some new business. Tom hesitantly agreed. The show was a success and a positive buzz quickly formed. Soon thereafter, The Blue Collar Inn of Garwood, NJ requested that Tom play for their patrons. On the night of August 22nd 2003, Vella orchestrated an evening of music by inviting a local band, Staggering South, to join him in performing. It was here that Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson met on stage for the first time. It was also the first time the bar's history that The Blue Collar Inn was filled to capacity . This meeting was only a glimpse of what was to come. Eager to see what the buzz was about, the booking agent for The Crossroads at Garwood, NJ, one of the premier music venues in the central New Jersey area, soon approached Tom. They requested an hour set, as a trial to see whether their interests could be met. After a strong performance and stellar turnout, he was quickly booked with a regular monthly slot at The Crossroads. In order to increase the dynamic of his performance, Tom invited longtime friend and electric guitarist, Lucas Richardson, to accompany him onstage. Lucas, also a self-taught, eight year veteran of the guitar comes from a completely different musical background than Tom. He is a blues based player who lends a soul full touch to Tom's acoustic rock sound...thus creating the unique sound that is Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson. On September 26th 2003, Vella and Richardson played their first show together, in front of a packed house at The Crossroads and received an enormously positive response. Since that time, Vella and Richardson are now billed as, '...one of central New Jersey's premier acoustic rock acts.' The State Theater of New Jersey billed Tom and Luke by saying, '...supporting Tim Reynolds will be newcomers Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson, Westfield, NJ natives who have burst on to the scene with their own fresh acoustic sound.' Since January of 2003, Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson have performed with and /or been on the same bill as: * Tim Reynolds * Bob Marley's Legendary Wailers * Rusted Root singer/songwriter Michale Glabicki * Richie Havens * The Verve Pipe singer/songwriter Brian Vander Ark ...with performances at: * The Crossroads, Garwood, NJ * The Stone Pony, Asbury Park, NJ * Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ * The Crossroads Theater, New Brunswick, NJ * Harry's Roadhouse, Asbury Park, NJ * The Green Rock, Hoboken, NJ * The Blue Collar Inn, Garwood, NJ * City Streets Café, Morris Plains, NJ * The 'S.A.T.B. Benefit Concert' supporting 'The Valerie Fund for Cancer Research,' Union County, NJ * The 'Run For Runaways' charity event supporting 'The Somerset Home for Temporarily Displaced Children', Bridgewater, NJ *An interesting side note...Tom and Lucas accomplished all of the above mentioned without a demo or a press kit or a promo pack or a website, and so on and so forth...word of mouth is a powerful tool. With just two guitars and one voice, Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson enthrall audiences without compromise. Vella's aggressive percussive acoustic guitar styling and strong soulful voice are flawlessly meshed with Richardson's innovative and intricate accompaniments. On stage, Vella is nothing but raw energy. While bouncing around, dancing joyfully and banging his acoustic guitar, he sings with the passion and intensity of a roaring fire. Richardson on the other hand stands solidly still, dancing only with his fingers, swiftly up and down the fret board. Together they passionately perform a series of unique songs that Tom Vella had originally written for no one else but him self. Vella was quoted saying, 'I never in a million years thought I would be playing my songs in front of people. The whole idea [of Vella's songs] is pretty simple though...my songs are real, they are raw, they are about me and things I have experienced in life. I don't write songs to impress people, I write songs to relate to people...they are stories about life. My songs are written as if you ripped pages out of my diary...I just try to sing those pages in a melody that everybody might understand and maybe nod their heads to...and then Lucas steps in and takes my simple songs to the next level...' Richardson's attitude is very similar. 'It's not about image or anything like that. That's what makes Tom's songs so down to earth. And as for writing music together, it's always a pleasure. His level of enthusiasm about music is refreshing. Every time I see him he has something new that he has come up with, and that keeps me on my toes.' With a fan base that grows stronger with each performance, the necessity for a recording was inevitable. In May of 2003, Tom and Luke took off to the studio to record their first EP/demo entitled The Disclaimer Demonstration. Although the EP is not to be released till the end of October of 2003, hundreds upon hundreds of bootleg versions have been burned and passed around at their live shows, parking lots at other concerts, college campuses and who knows where else. After the EP was released on October 10th 2003, the duo sold 300 units within the first three weeks Tom and Luke's theory is simple, they have said, 'Honestly, we don't care how the music gets out there. We would use carrier pigeons is we had access to them, but we don't, so we are just going to have to keep on doing what we're doing...the whole grassroots thing is just fine with us.' Now armed with a solid demo, a press kit, a website and a passion for self promotion, the word about Tom Vella and Lucas Richardson is spreading incessantly. With no plans of slowing down, Tom and Lucas keep their eyes focused on the future. More shows, continual song writing, self promotion, fan relations and insane amounts of rehearsal time are just a few of their short term goals. And when the time comes, the two will add an entire ensemble to take their music to the next level, but one step at a time. When asked about the past year, Vella commented, 'The past year has been one huge learning experience for us...and the biggest lesson learned is a simple one...baby steps, man, baby steps...you have to take everything one step at a time...one song at a time, one show at a time, one fan at a time...you get the drift. I firmly believe that if you take your time and do it right, everything will fall into place when it has to.' ...To be continued.