Tom Skinner

Tom Skinner
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When one thinks of the music capital of the United States, Stillwater, Oklahoma likely never comes to mind. But in the early 1980s Stillwater was a hotbed of musical talent. Austin rocker Jimmy LaFave began his career there. Legendary songwriter Bob Childers did, too. Even mega-star Garth Brooks got started in Stillwater. But the voice that most embodies Oklahoma “red dirt” music would have to be Tom Skinner.

The musical story of Tom Skinner began up the road from Stillwater, in Bristow, Oklahoma. This is where Tom was raised and began singing, at an early age, in the church choir. He took up playing guitar while serving in the military in the late 1970s. After the military, Tom returned home to settle into the life of a professional musician.

During the early and mid 1980s Tom played throughout Oklahoma. He made a name for himself as a solo performer and as the leader of a hot country band, the Skinner Brothers Band (a group that included Tom’s younger brothers Mike and Craig). His instrumental abilities on both guitar and bass led to a stint in Sante Fe, a band that featured a then unknown Garth Brooks. Their talents took them to Nashville and propelled Brooks to phenomenal success. Tom was less than thrilled with the 1980s Nashville scene and returned to Stillwater to head up a band called The Twanglers.

The mid 1990s brought about a change in musical fortunes for Tom Skinner. During a two year stay in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Tom’s music came to the attention of a small record company. Although he had often been approached about recording, the pieces just never quite fit. This time they did. Skinner returned to Oklahoma in early 1996 to record Times Have Changed for Binky Records.

Released in 1997, Times Have Changed is a stunning collection of thirteen original compositions by Tom and some of his Okie compadres. Early pressings of the disc include two additional acoustic tracks. One song from the disc, “Maybe It’s Love”, was licensed for use in a film while another, “Water Your Own Yard”, was recorded by southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd. Another song from the CD, “Goin’ Down the River Road”, was  recorded by Cajun music star Waylon Tibodeaux.

In 1998, Skinner hit the studio with nothing more than a guitar and an incredible batch of songs. The result, Acoustic Skinner, showcased Tom’s voice in a totally unplugged environment. Skinner followed the release by hitting the road with his band Farmboy (later re-titled the Dusty Children). The band recorded a live album, which, though never released, spawned a killer version of “Skyline Radio”.

Late in 1998 Tom hit the studio with the Dusty Children. The recordings resulted in Tom’s final CD for Binky Records, Jesus Took Me Fishin’.

Tom is currently working on a new project for 598 Recordings.

Tom Skinner continues to be a force in the Oklahoma Red Dirt scene. He and Eric Hansen are playing in the Mike McClure Band. It has often been said that Tom Skinner is the greatest songwriter you have never heard of. Time will surely change this!

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