Video Premiere: Tom Heyman “Sonny Jim”

Tom Heyman
Photo credit: Lauren Tabak.

Tom Heyman’s new album, ’24th Street Blues’, is rich in characters and stories, evoking a real sense of place and transporting the listener to San Francisco.  Heyman has lived there since the turn of the century, watching the city slowly change.  The album is a concept piece that follows the lives of the everyday people in San Francisco’s Mission District, struggling to get by, buffeted by changes and highlighting the endangered culture of the area.  The narratives are compelling and, although lyrically specific to Heyman’s home, will speak to anyone who has stayed in one place and observed the world around them.  He explains: “If you stay somewhere long enough, you really start to see it change.  Around 2010, the city started to feel like a sped up movie, jerking and lurching forward at a dangerously fast, celluloid-shredding pace with market forces feeling like a locomotive bearing down on anything or anyone in its path.”  These tales are the heart of Americana.

‘Sonny Jim’ is another well-realised, character-driven song and the found-footage in the video, created by Mark Schreiber, really reinforces the sense of nostalgia Heyman conveys with his words.  Musically upbeat, the song’s shuffling, swaying rhythms are engaging while his acoustic strum plays around the piano keys and melodic bass.

Heyman told AUK about the song and video: “Like quite a few of my more character driven songs, ‘Sonny Jim’ is a composite character sketch of a few people I have known and been close to in my life.  I think we all probably know someone who seems to skate through life on a combination of charm, good luck and guile, and at a certain point when that is not enough,  they run out of road. It can be a tough thing to watch, or be close to.  I had the main riff for the song kicking around for quite a bit before I finally turned it into a song. It was one of the first things we cut for ’24th Street Blues’ and I really had no idea how it was going to come out. My favorite thing about the recording is how Rusty Miller’s piano works against the acoustic guitars, and of course that off-kilter echoing bass line.  My old Philadelphia pal Mark Schreiber made the video for the song. Mark is a wonderful drummer who I have known since my Go To Blazes days, who plays in a terrific band called John Train. I knew I wanted to make a video for the song, but the last thing I wanted to do was to have another ‘fool on a stool’ performance video of me fake singing my way through it.  I was back in Philly to open a gig for them in November of last year and Mark showed me a video he had recently finished that used a bunch of found footage, and it planted the seed to have him create a narrative style found footage video for the song. I was just absolutely knocked out by what he came up with.  I will be playing ‘Sonny Jim’ and a bunch of other songs from ’24th Street Blues’ when I am on tour in the UK in March, and I will have vinyl, cd’s and the illustrated songbook that accompanies the record with me.”

Look out for Heyman on tour in the UK this March – tickets and details here.  In the meantime, check out the album and enjoy ‘Sonny Jim’.

About Andrew Frolish 1412 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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