Traditional Music

Under Construction

Song Sampler

(click to listen)

My Love Has Brought Me Despair

Devilish Mary

Mountaineer's Courtship

Max's Polska


A brief musical biography

Born and raised in New York City, Tom Paley fell in love, long ago, with traditional folk-music. He began playing guitar and 5-string banjo and was soon well-known for his instrumental skill. For a time, he performed in a duo with Woody Guthrie. Later, with Mike Seeger and John Cohen, he formed THE NEW LOST CITY RAMBLERS, the group that generated a great wave of interest in the traditional string band music of the rural South.

After the breakup of the original NLCR, he formed the short-lived OLD RELIABLE STRING BAND (together with Roy Berkeley and Artie Rose) and then moved to Sweden, residing there for three years (1963-65) before moving to England, where he has lived ever since, touring often in America, the UK, Scandinavia and other parts of Europe, both solo and with other musicians.

In England, he worked together, from about 1966, with Joe Locker and a series of fiddlers as the NEW DEAL STRING BAND. The NDSB was temporarily laid on the shelf in the late ?70s but has been revived in recent years with Tom's son, Ben, joining Tom and Joe as principal fiddler (though, in 1975, after many years on guitar and banjo, Tom took up fiddle, as well, so the NDSB now has two fiddlers).

((At first, when Tom began playing fiddle, he played only the same sort of American Old-Time music that he'd been doing for years guitar and banjo but, eventually, he began trying some of the strange and beautiful fiddle-tunes he heard in Sweden. Banjo and guitar are still his main instruments and American Old-Time music still makes up the bulk of his performance material, but Swedish fiddle-music now ranks equally high in his affections; he plays it whenever he gets a chance. In Sweden, he's been awarded the coveted Zorn-medal (in bronze; not the highest award but not lightly given, especially to non-Swedes) for his Swedish fiddling. When he and Ben perform together, if it's appropriate, they like to present the beautiful Swedish 'twin-fiddle' tradition, along with their hard-driving American music.))

Tom has been made (honorary) president of FOAOTMAD (Friends of American Old-Time Music and Dance), the organization formed in England a few years ago


There are 2 recent CDs on the WILDWOOD RECORDINGS label: DEALING A NEW HAND, (American Old-Time music played by the New Deal String Band - Tom & Ben Paley & Joe Locker), and SVENSKA LTAR (Tom & Ben Paley play Swedish fiddle-tunes) Earlier recordings:

With NLCR: NEW LOST CITY RAMBLERS vols 1-5, Old Timey Songs for Children, Songs from the Depression, American Moonshine & Prohibition & two EP records (all on Folkways, 1958-62) plus various numbers on compilation records (some on Folkways, some not). Many things have been reissued, too, and the NLCR also have a double-LP on Flying Fish, 20 Years of Concert Recordings. Others: Folksongs from the Southern Appalachian Mountains (Elektra, 1953)

Shivaree (Playlet with music, with various artists, Esoteric, 1950s?) Folk Banjo Styles (about 1/3 of the album. Elektra, about 1960?) The Old Reliable String Band (w/ Roy Berkeley & Artie Rose, Folkways, 1962)

Who's Going to Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot? Who's Going to Glove Your Hand? (w/Peggy Seeger & Claudia Paley, Topic, 1964) Down in the Willow (New Deal String Band, Tom, Joe Locker & Janet Kerr) Sue Cow (Mostly solo, w/Joe & Janet on a few numbers (these last 2 LPs are on Argo, a Decca affiliate, late 1960s) Hard Luck Papa (Kicking Mule, 1976, Part solo, part w/ Joe Locker) Heartsease (Cassette, w/Barbara Lester & Ben Paley, Just a Person, 1991)

Old Tom Moore and More (Cassette, Global Village, 1991, Solo) On a Cold Winter Night (Cassette, Marimac, 1993, w/Ben, Recorded in 1989)

Stern Old Bachelor (Opus 3, 1985 & 1994, both solo and with other musicians)

(Tom is also on various compilation records and has accompanied, among others: Hedy West, Barbara Dane, Jim Reams, Cyril Tawney, The Family 4, The Jailbird Singers, The Corrie Folk Trio, and Ian Matthews' Southern Comfort.)

(Tom has performed on radio and TV, as well as in festivals and clubs, in many countries.)

A Partial Tom Paley Discography

1) "Dealing a New Hand," The New Deal String Band - Tom Paley, Ben Paley, Joe Locker; WILD CD 19804 (1998,9)
2) "Svenska Lotar," with Ben Paley, (traditional Swedish fiddle tunes) WILD CD 19805 (1998,9)
3) "Mysterious Redbirds" Tom Paley, James Reams and Bill Christopherson Copper Creek Records, CCCD 0188, (1992-98)
4) "New Lost City Ramblers - 40 Years of Concert Recordings" Rounder 82161-0481-2 Audio Cassettes:
5) "Old Tom Moore & More" Global Village C 309 (1991)
6) "On a Cold Winter Night" with Ben Paley (American and Swedish tunes and songs) Marimac C9050 (1989)
7) "Heartsease" with Barbara Lester & Ben Paley, Just A Person Productions (1991)
8) "Separate Ways" with Barbara Lester, others, Just A Person Productions (1993)
The music for this site was sampled, encoded and restored by John McDermott :