About Tom: In His Own Words

One Toke Over The Line. I guess that will always be how I’m defined. I was just joking when I came up with those words but Michael and I ended up turning it into a song and now it’s here to stay.  I have done other things in my life for which I have as much, if not more pride but no complaints.

I always love it when Brewer and Shipley fans come up and tell me how our music has changed their lives. That was never my intent. I love making music and telling stories and the fact that I get love in return is wonderful and somewhat unexpected.

I was raised in Bedford, a small Ohio town just outside of Cleveland, the son of a high school teacher and basketball coach. I am a graduate of Baldwin-Wallace University where I got a Bachelor of Science degree in earth science with the intention of going on to get a masters degree in marine biology at the University of Florida. My heart and soul have always been captured by the outdoors, especially the wild places where the water flows, the mountains rise, and the jungle holds me in a tangle of vines and greenery.

The adventure of it all is what keeps me alive. To this day I spend as much time as I can with my fly rod on one of our Ozark trout streams and head to the jungles of Yucatan as often as possible. I’ve also taken my fly rod to the mountains of Colorado, Montana and Wyoming, the Mangrove flats of the Yucatan, and the jungles on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. My only complaint is that there are not enough days in a lifetime to take it all in.

I began producing television in the 1980s. While still playing with Brewer and Shipley, I began producing video projects with my wife Jan. Along with a couple of friend we started The Oral History Of The Ozarks Project to record some of the people from the place where we live. That endeavor allowed me to create music for the projects I was doing. I also began producing video projects for a technological university near my home. That fulfilled two of my major needs: creating content and seeking adventure.

I was sent to the Amazon, the Andes of Bolivia, the island of San Salvador and a host of other exotic places. There I had the pleasure of working with some of the best engineering minds in the country if not the world, telling their stories and getting wrapped up in the wonder of it all. I also began writing a weekly column for the regional newspaper and did stories for magazines. Not as Shipley from Brewer and Shipley but as Tom, the son of Woodrow and Josephine Shipley.

And of course there is the music. One Toke Over The Line and the rock and roll road that followed. To put it in a thumbnail, after Brewer and Shipley got together we started traveling, had a hit record, and have continued to perform for over 50 years. We have played and toured with everyone from The Eagles and The Beach Boys to Springsteen and Ozzie.

Ozzie? One of these days I’ll do a post about that but I had better be more than one toke over when I write it. After 50 years, I guess we have done shows with just about everybody. We never played with Eric Clapton which is a shame. Not only is he one of my favorite musical artists, he is also a major fly fisherman. He even has a very expensive, split bamboo fly rod named after him. The Slowhand Special.

Now, after a lot of years of creating music and media I’m retiring. No. Wait a minute, I’m not really retiring. I’m just not doing things I don’t want to do anymore. I still play music, I’m looking always looking for a video project, and as far as the adventure goes. My life has been an adventure and will continue to be so as long as I’m on the top side of the grass. Life is good.