As lead vocalist for Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats, Flattop Tom Hall plays both the diatonic and chromatic harmonicas, and has been officially sponsored by Hohner Harmonicas, Inc. since 1994.
Tom’s early musical influences were the Big Bands his parents listened to, including Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Fletcher Henderson, Gene Kruppa, Harry James, Frank Sinatra, Louis Prima, and popular hits from the 50s & 60s that he heard on the radio.
During the 80s, Hall became an accomplished swing dancer, following bands in the L.A. Rockabilly scene like the Stray Cats and the Blasters. He soon realized that most of the Rockabilly tunes were old blues songs, and that Jump Blues were even better to dance to than Rockabilly. That’s when he began to follow blues bands like the James Harmon Band and Roomful of Blues.
In the Jump Blues realm, Tom was influenced by Big Joe Turner, Louis Prima, Louis Jordan, Roy Brown, Joe Liggins and the Texas Swing band, Asleep At The Wheel. On multiple occasions during the 80s, Tom was lucky enough to see Big Joe Turner and Joe Liggins live.
In 1987, Tom attended the Topanga Canyon Blues Festival where he discovered he wanted to be a musician. At the festival, he saw two great harp players: Paul Butterfield and William Clarke battling each other on the harmonica while backing up vocalist Linda Hopkins.
Especially impressed with Clarke, Hall decided then and there that he wanted to play the harmonica. He took great interest in Clarke’s playing and the two eventually became friends. Learning that artists such as George “Harmonica” Smith, Walter Horton, and Sonny Boy Williamson were influential to Clarke, Tom began collecting and playing along with their records. Other West Coast harp players like Mark Hummel, James Harmon and Rod Piazza also influenced him.
Tom continued to dance and in 1991 appeared in the movie, “Shout” with John Travolta. In 1996 he dance in the critically acclaimed movie, “Swingers,” which was filmed live at The Derby in Los Angeles. He won the 1996 Street Swing Contest in Ventura and has appeared as a dancer in many commercials.
In January 1992, Hall formed Flattop Tom & His Jump Cats. Playing the Los Angeles club scene, he developed his own unique style, playing harmonica along with the horn arrangements. Gradually, the band attracted better players, evolving into to the highly talented and energetic combo that is the “Jump Cats” today. Whether they’re playing oldies from the 40s, 50s and 60s, or Big Band, Blues, Jump Jive or R&B, Hall strives to create sounds that keep crowds excited and dancing all night.
A unique feature of Flattop Tom’s performances is that when other band members sing or take instrumental solos, he jumps off stage and joins the audience on the dance floor where, much to the crowd’s delight, he still jitterbugs complete with lifts and the occasional aerial stunt.
Tom has been fortunate to have many of his songs placed in movies and on TV, including the feature films, “Three Weddings and A Funeral,” “Baby Mama,” “Meeting David Wilson,” “Songs In Ordinary Time,” “Mama Mia,” and the recently released “Deuce of Spades.”