About Tomi Allen
Tomi Allen’s music is a melting pot of genres blending global grooves with hazy 70s beach vibes. Drawing on a wide variety of influences including classic rock, reggae, blues, latin, funk, flamenco, jazz, african and old school R&B, one song might get you grooving to a roots reggae beat with bluesy jazz infusions, the next might take you on a soulful exploration of Brazilian music or back in time on a psychedelic funk/rock trip. How to classify the overall sound is anyone’s guess but one thing is certain - Tomi’s mix-mash of musical styles is refreshingly unique.
Growing up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Tomi began studying piano at an early age but it wasn’t until the age of fifteen that he really discovered his love for music through the guitar. He dug into classic rock and blues and followed rock and roll’s history back through time to the blues emulating as best he could the likes of Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Buddy Guy. After years of obsessing over the blues he met some funk/jazz musicians (Dylan Murray, Verbal Warnin') in need of a keyboardist for a reggae band and it proved to be a turning point. He was inspired to broaden his horizons and began exploring the world of reggae, funk and jazz through notable influences such as Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, Ernest Ranglin, James Brown and Galactic. The next marked influences came during Tomi's sun-seeking, Canadian-winter-dodging adventures where the acoustic music of Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Coldplay seemed a perfect complement to the backpacking, boats and beaches. His travels later took him to Spain and revealed flamenco guitar techniques he had heard on Gipsy Kings records during childhood but hadn’t quite been able to figure out by ear. The fire and flash of the complex style captivated his focus and humbled him once again. He went back into study mode and began piecing together the rhythms, scales, and intricate right-hand techniques that compose the fiery form. When it was time to travel again, South America was on the map and there he was introduced to a funky, jazzy, easy-grooving variety of Brazilian music - Bossa Nova and Samba. And being the sucker that he is for infectious rhythms and grooves - you guessed it - he began studying that music as well.
All the while blues, classic rock, reggae, flamenco and other bum-shaking ear candy like soul, funk, old school R&B, African and Cuban music continued to circulate on his playlists.
With such a broad backdrop of influences it is no wonder that Tomi’s music is different. Any given song could feature flamenco and latin fingerstyle guitar blended with bluesy, classic rock, reggae riffs; screaming psychedelic guitar solos, or simple but tasty leads. Such an unusual combination of influences has resulted in songwriting and guitar work that has a unique and percussive twist that is sure to get even more interesting as Tomi continues to seek more music beyond the horizon.
Vince Pettipas - bass
Mike Carroll - drums
Matt Myer - organ, keyboard, trumpet
Inti Gonzalez - percussion
Kristine Kovacevic - backing vocals
Kendra Breen - backing vocals, violin
Tomi Allen - vocals, guitars
Mike Carroll is one of those versatile drummers who plays everything with everyone. From jazz gigs to Myles Goodwyn (April Wine) and Matt Andersen to cover bands, it's been a real treat playing with someone who knows groove through and through.
Vince Pettipas, my long time pal I've been playing with for about ten years now, is one of those guys who likes to stay in the background. He does his thing, executes with style and wisdom, then goes home to his family to chill and lay low. One of Dartmouth's little secrets.
I've been watching Matt Myer tear it up for years. From gipsy jazz to reggae to afro-beat and improv with top jazz cats in town, he's one of those down-to-earth, world class players we're lucky to have right here in Halifax.
Inti Gonzalez... now he's a character! A fun loving soul from Mexico City, he studied classical music on the violin, leads his own band Zulkamoon on guitar and vocals, and is a versatile world percussionist. He's also not afraid to race you up a hill or drink multiple steins with you on a Sunday afternoon.
Kendra Breen has one of those silky smooth voices that mesmerizes and harmonizes effortlessly, AND she plays violin! She and her band, The Barrowdowns, have been infecting Halifax in a very good way with their rootsy folk music and 5-part harmonies.
Kristine Kovacevic lives around around the corner from me with her family and we build sweet jumps together for her kids' dinkies. She also LOVES reading (note the book tattoo on her shoulder). She and Kendra balance the boys out with beautiful harmonies and make us sound and look way better.