Newark, Delaware, USA

If you like Dave Matthews Band, Hippocampus can deliver. Our reputation was made as an original band that can really play '90s jam rock. We have an appreciation for the 60's greats as well, and in both our choice of cover material, and our original tunes, we strongly reflect these influences.


Hippocampus was born on a cold, dark night – Halloween 1998 – when a few local musicians were invited to a Halloween jam session on the outskirts of Newark, Delaware. At the time no one knew that it would be the beginning of a great musical collective.

Hippocampus had truly humble beginnings – playing pool halls for free beer on Wednesday nights, playing on front porches in Dover – honing their craft, and learning how to move a crowd to give them the good time they wanted. College bars, honky-tonks, city saloons, power-outs, rain-outs and snow-outs, state fairs – this band has some unique tales to tell.

Each band member brings a different personal and musical sensibility to the collective in a way that makes the band far greater than the sum of its parts.

Singer/guitarist Tom Esposito started as a singer/songwriter performing in northern Virginia, where he met Dave Matthews and experienced the wave of new music that flooded the region in the mid-90s. This formative period affected the core of Tom’s performing and songwriting sensibilities.

Keyboardist Frank Donato represents the spiritual center of the band. His musical journeys and creative boldness have given the band the confidence to play in the bigger clubs. His appreciation of Phish and the Grateful Dead provides the context for his contributions to the sound, and to his unofficial title as “the man you should all get to know.”

Drummer Bill Murphy approaches percussion the way Jackson Pollock approached his canvas – with splashes of color and energetic passion. Murph’s performance sensibility is informed by the drumming greats of progressive rock, and his fearlessness behind the kit inspires crowds, and the band, to push themselves to their musical limit.

Jason Smith, a.k.a. “Lumpy,” is a musician’s musician. His dedication to his craft, his devotion to jazz, and his fearless commitment to musical experimentation drives the band to explore its creative boundaries. Like the greatest bass players, he composes with his instrument every time he plays.

Original lead guitarist Eric Donato stepped away from the live stage in fall 2009 after the birth of his second child. Guitarist Troy "T-Bone" Pretko is the newest member of the band, joining in late 2009. His impressive home-made pedal board is a testament to his love of old-school electronics. Troy brings the sensibilities of both Jerry Garcia and Johnny Marr to his playing and he is able to attain a wide variety of tone and flavor from his instrument. We are excited to unleash his talent within the Hippocampus collective.

The name “Hippocampus” was derived from the clinical term for that part of the brain responsible for deciding which memories to keep for a lifetime. This band, with its musical friendships and its earnestness at getting better, aims to make “music for your long term memory.”

Hippocampus has opened for the Steve Miller Band (in 2007); a band with a #1 song on the radio (Nine Days) has opened for us (in 2001). We won an award as the best original band in Delaware (from Spark Magazine in 2008). We’ve been awarded a prize for Song of the Year (“Shine” in 2008 from 93.7 WSTW). We’ve been paid well; we’ve been paid nothing but beer; we’ve performed at countless charity events. No matter the venue or the crowd, Hippocampus loves to play and inspire, and we bring it for every gig.



Written By: Tom Esposito

When you think you can't suffer this life
Anymore, He is 'round the corner
When your heart is lonely remember
Everyone gets lonely sometimes

Let your life - Shine
Let your love - Shine

When you think the city is crazy and sad
Take a drive to the countryside
Grab a seat beneath the shade of a tree
And life will be so simple and free

Let your life - Shine
Let your love - Shine
Let your life - Shine
Let your love - Shine

Find peace in your heart
Give in and do your part
Help someone who needs a friend
And you will find your love again

When you think there is no love for you
You are truly mistaken
God came out of the sky to die and rise again
He paid for all those who betrayed you

Let your life - Shine
Let your love - Shine
Let your life - Shine
Let your love
Shine on...

Take Me Back

Written By: Tom Esposito

In the fog of my mind
There was a time when I
Was in a rock band, and we jammed
And the beautiful people danced
And I sang for them, and we jammed

Take me back there
Won't you take me back?
Won't you take me back

There was a place we used to play
It's called the Deer Park in Newark, USA
Edgar Allan Poe would stay, back in the day
The train would rumble by a couple times a night
Make you feel all right backstage

Take me back there
Won't you take me back?
Won't you take me back
Take me back...

Now I'm on my own
And how the years have flown
I've got a little girl and another one on the way
There's a lot I have to do but it's OK
I had to grow up anyway
Once in a while I'd like to get together with my friends and play

Take me back there
Won't you take me back?
Won't you take me back
Take me back
Take me back



"Shine" – Live - Mojo 13 Compilation disc - December 2007

"Mind's Eye" – May 2008 – included in movie soundtrack for movie "The Despair"

"Shine" – July 2008 – Studio EP "Mind's Eye" - entered into Spark "Summer Music Series" contest, which the band won in September 2008. Also awarded “Homey” award for “Song of the Year” from 93.7 WSTW Hometown Heroes.

“Take Me Back” – December 2009 – from EP “Take Me Back” – featured on 93.7 WSTW “Hometown Heroes”.


"Hippocampus" – May 2000 – "To Give"; "Dreams"; and "Nothing for a While". Recorded at Target Studios in a 4 day session; Newark, DE.

"Mind's Eye" – June 2008 – “Mind’s Eye”, "Shine", "Touch", and "All Alone". Recorded at Buddy Project, Astoria NYC. 2 day session. Single "Shine" entered into Spark "Summer Music Series" contest. Propelled band to victory as "Best Original Band in DE" over 15 other bands.

“Take Me Back" - December 2009 - "Heat"; “Take Me Back”; "California Blue"; "Maria"; and "My Sweet Love". Recorded at Milkboy Studios in one day. As part of Spark 2008 victory, we won a day of studio time there. Currently promoting this disc.


"Hippocampus - Free Your Mind" - a collection of live recordings - 2005.

"Diamond State"- Tom Esposito's solo studio album with collaboration from Hippocampus members. – 2005.

"Essential Hippocampus 2007" - a collection of live recordings from early to new Hippocampus with a few covers thrown in for good measure.

Set List

Our music sounds very much representative of the bands we cover. Pop and hook driven songs with emphasis on a good dance beat and keeping crowds on their feet.

ORIGINALS: (* Recent Sets)
* Heat
* Take Me Back
* Maria
* My Sweet Love
All Alone
*California Blue
*Charlie’s Farm
*Downtown Train
*Minds Eye
*Nothing For Awhile
Slide 7 Back 5
*Take It
*To Give
TTR (Twisting Turning Road)
White Clay Creek

Songs We've Covered: (*Recent Sets)
* Tripping Billies
* Scarlet Begonias
All Along the Watchtower
All Star
*American Girl
*Ants Marching
*Are You Going To Be My Girl
Black Magic Woman
*Brown Eyed Girl
Buddy Holly
*Come Together
Crash Into Me
*Dancing Nancies
Down On the Corner
*First Tube
*Fly Like An Eagle
*Folsom Prison Blues
Fortunate Son
*Franklins Tower
*Get Back
Hard To Handle
Hash Pipe
Hey Joe
Hide Your Love Away
*I Shot the Sheriff
I Want You Back
I Will Survive