Tommy Womack's Survival Strategy: Candor, Humor and Rock and Roll
Tommy Womack is Nashville’s wittiest roots rock and roller, a songwriter who can compose with an acid dipped pen or a lovely set of watercolors. He’s also an author, a DJ for WXNA and a columnist for the East Nashvillian magazine, where he further refines his persona as a good guy gadfly. Tommy is on a lot of folks’ minds these days because he’s been through a rough patch. No sooner had he recovered from a serious auto accident, he was diagnosed with cancer. That was another whole trial, but now he's through treatment and is nine months symptom free.
Womack came out of the improbably fertile Bowling Green, KY music scene, where he launched his career as part of the punky, powerful and sardonic Government Cheese, a band that recently reunited by the way. Tommy’s had a lot of other bands too. He goes way back with fellow Nashvillian Will Kimbrough, first in the Bis-quits and more recently the soulful roots rock band Daddy. This Spring the band released its second album Let’s Do This.
Among the highlights in our candid conversation, he said this of the new Daddy album:
“It’s a good guitar record. One of the favorite things that me and Kimbrough do is the Rolling Stones guitar combination. The second guitarist in the Stones was Mick Taylor and he was as good as Carlos Santana at the same sort of thing - a lot of fancy fretwork. And Keith Richards would be the meat and potatoes rhythm guy. So I’m Keith and Will is Mick Taylor, because Will can do all this fancy guitar gymnastics that I can’t do. But there’s something about what I do that he can’t do. I make him sound a little rougher and he makes me sound prettier.”
And on why Daddy is a great outlet for Tommy as songwriter:
“Once you start writing autobiographically you can’t stop. There’s no coming back from that. You can’t start inventing characters that aren’t you and writing story songs about people that don’t exist. But with DADDY I can write whatever tuneful rock and roll song - ooh baby, baby let’s dance - I’m free to write that, which in my solo career I’m not necessarily at liberty to do it.”
This feature interview originally appeared in Episode 55 of The String, WMOT’s conversation show about culture, media and American music with host Craig Havighurst. The String airs Sundays at 8 am and Mondays at 9 pm, and it is a podcast available at iTunes and other podcast platforms.
Daddy featuring Tommy Womack and Will Kimbrough perform "Cadillac Problems" at Music City Roots, March 1, 2018.