There is something quite magical about Lubbock, Texas, and its seeming ability to produce amazing musicians from this West Texas city. This Texas Music Friendly Community has a history of great music, and of course, the names Buddy Holly, Mac Davis and Josh Abbott are among a few of the best known but there are countless talented people who have made a music career and can trace their roots back to the Hub City. This is a fascinating phenomenon and one that is as complex as the recipe for the great wine the region produces, but there seem to be a few common ingredients to make a great Lubbock musician and they stem from the traditional West Texas values that Lubbock treasures: family, grit, and courage.
A common component to the many musicians I’ve met in the last year is the love and support of their family and mentors. Be it parents, teachers, spouses, children or siblings, Lubbock musicians seem to, in general, have a hefty support system around them. Parents and teachers who encourage, share their love of music and push the artist to keep reaching, learning and dreaming. This support is critical during the ups and downs of a music career and so is a determined grittiness. The music industry is not an easy one to enter, but Lubbock musicians seem to have stamina, willing to work the grind until they succeed and even after success, they keep grinding. Finally, those risk-taking artists occasionally outgrow the West Texas sunsets, and it is time for them to move into bigger markets whether just on tour or in a more permanent way. To leave family, friends and the incredible Lubbock arts community takes unknown courage. Any type of move and risk requires bravery and a confidence that not everyone has within themselves.
Lubbock’s native son as he is affectionately known by many, Tom Braxton seems to be the perfect example of these ingredients producing an exceptional musician. Tom was born and raised in Lubbock and grew up with music in his home. His dad, James Braxton, was a musician and respected band and orchestra director sharing his love of music not only with thousands of students throughout his life, but with his son at home. James loved jazz, and growing up along Route 66, saw and listened to many of the greats in the 1930’s including big bands of Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Fletcher Henderson, and Chick Webb, just to name a few.
Tom grew up listening to these great musicians with his dad – resulting in the formation of the heart and soul of an incredible jazz musician.
Tom played piano and alto saxophone as a child. It would be the saxophone that would steal his heart. By the time he was a Senior at Lubbock Dunbar High School, Tom knew that music would be his career. He majored in music at Texas Tech University and after graduation, moved with the group he was playing with at the time to Austin. Tom speaks fondly of his formation in Lubbock describing it as a “huge, loving community.”
He’s come a long way since the early ‘80s when he left the Hub City to pursue his passions, but he’s still incredibly connected to Lubbock and is in fact pursuing his master’s in music education via Texas Tech University’s distance learning program. Tom will return in September for the Caprock Jazz Festival, an event he’s been a part of since its inception with Roots Historical Arts Council founder Eric Strong. The festival, in addition to Tom, will bring in such jazz greats as: Adam Hawley, Emmet Cohen Trio featuring Bruce Harris and the Hub City Jazz Orchestra. The event, to be held September 18, 2021, at the beautiful new Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences, is a fundraising event with all proceeds supporting Roots Historical Arts Council and the Caviel Museum of African American History in Lubbock.
In addition to touring and performing, Tom has recently released a new album: “Lookin’ Up” which is available through Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, and live shows.
Tom’s new album contains 10 amazing songs and is a great mix of his compositions as well as some familiar covers. http://tombraxton.com/index.htm
“Hope for Tomorrow” and “Lookin Up” have both landed on the Smooth Jazz Billboard Chart. Two of the songs on the new album Tom wrote for his wife Sharon. Sharon is naturally musical too and Tom shared that she was “humming a little tune” one evening that he liked and took that tune and created the song “Sharon’s Groove” from it. He wrote her a ballad as well which is on the album “As Long as I’m With You”. It’s a love letter to her and something that he says he tells her all the time. “Things will be okay as long as I’m with you.”
Tom has two sons: Julian and Ian, both in college pursuing their own paths one at Baylor and one at Rice. He is incredibly proud of them and the lives they are building and shar
es that they have been an incredible support to him.
Tom Braxton is the real deal, West Texas rooted ethics, talent and heart rolled into an incredibly gifted musician. Don’t miss him during the Caprock Jazz Festival September 18 and snag his new album “Lookin Up”. To purchase tickets to the Caprock Jazz Festival, please visit: www.caprockjazz.org