Tom Butwin
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Tom Butwin

Detroit, Michigan, United States | SELF

Detroit, Michigan, United States | SELF
Band Pop Singer/Songwriter




"By Samantha Franz"

Those of you who haven’t heard of Tom Butwin will find out soon enough. Likewise, fans of the 21 year old singer-songwriter are in for some good news. With his acoustic/jazz/pop sound, Butwin released his second CD, “Tom Butwin EP,” on Jan 26, a project which began in August 2005.
“I was there (at the recording studio) for eight days straight, he said. “It took some time to put the whole project together, but it was worth the wait.”
Butwin released his debut CD, “Living Room” in 2003. He feels that his new EP is a step up from his earlier work.
“It’s well thought out, more efficient. I’ve grown up a lot,” he said. “I can just concentrate on songs and performing them, not the technical aspects of it. It was rough (back then) because I did everything myself. The EP only has five songs on it, but its five songs that show more depth.”
Butwin also has star power behind him. Producer Marlon Young played guitar on a few Dave Matthew’s Band songs and wrote and played two songs with Kid Rock. Al Sutton, who mixed the EP, has mixed for Sheryl Crow and Kid Rock. Members of Butwin’s band have played with the likes of Sponge, George Clinton, and Parliament Funkadelic.

A Little More Personal . . .

Oakland Post: At what point in your life did you realize, “I want to do this for a living?”
Tom Butwin: “Eighth or ninth grade, when I was first onstage. It became more and more ‘I want to do this’ as it went along. I’ve always been performance-minded.”

OP: What has been your greatest triumph as an artist? Likewise, what has been the lower point?
TB: “The greatest triumph is not having any music business contacts and doing a project like I have done. The lowest point was the time getting the EP together. I hadn’t played out in a while and I was so focused on the album cover and details (of the EP).
The novelty almost wore off on me. It was just a lot of work and I began to wonder, ‘Do I really want to do this?’ But I snapped out of it and got it done. The gravity of what I wanted to do hit me. I was trying to do everything at once. Now, I take it one step at a time.”

OP: Is it hard to be a young artist, trying to get your name out there?
TB: “Absolutely. The singer-songwriter market . . . seems to me there are a lot of people in that market. It’s important to set yourself apart so people know you’re serious about it.”

OP: What inspires you to write the lyrics that you do?
TB: “Writing lyrics is a burden. But it’s a stream of consciousness for me. Usually, it’s written right on the spot, then I go back and apply what I wrote. I get a lot of interpretation on what songs are about, and that’s good. If I can get one good line, one good lyric and build a song around it, I’ll be happy.”

OP: If you could collaborate with any artist, living or deceased, who would it be and why?
TB: “Living, it’d be Sting. He is the epitome of what a solo artist should be. He’s not just one type of music. Working with him would be very productive. As for dead, Mozart. It’d be cool to see his reaction to rock guitar and see what he thinks about it.”

OP: Are you partial to a particular song on your album? Why?
TB: “‘Run.’ It’s a really unique song. It’s really simple on one level but, on another, it has the most depth.

OP: What was the first song you learned how to play on guitar?
TB: The first song I learned to play was ‘Little Things’ by Bush. The first solo I learned how to play was “Black Magic Woman” by Santana.

OP: What advice helps you through your music career?
TB: “As easy as it is to do this, it’s hard not to try to be somebody else. You always have to be you. Everybody starts out in this business, trying to be like somebody else. But sooner or later, you have to break away from that.”

- The Oakland Post

"Review of the song "Never Learn from Yesterday""

"You've got a great voice that's just right for the modern rock style of your music. Lyrics are direct, powerful, & emotionally honest."

"A strong vocal performance and solid production. Your chorus is full of hooks ..."

"You've got a winner here. I hope you'll be getting this out to radio..."

-Taxi A&R - Taxi A & R

"1.19.08 Review"

Pontiac’s Crofoot Ballroom hosted a handful of local bands this Saturday, one of which was the Tom Butwin Band, comprised of OU student and singer/ songwriter Tom Butwin, drummer David Dionise, and bassist John Garland. The theme of the night was rock, which inspired many instances of lead singers pandering to the drunk and disgruntled with warnings before the slower tunes and promises of “speeding it right back up again” afterward. Butwin, however, chose a different approach.
Normally of the Dave Matthews school of acoustic alt-rock, Butwin showcased his musical versatility by covering bluesier tunes and by re-arranging his own compositions to fit more comfortably into the hard rock genre that seemed the general focus of the evening. While this can be a dangerous move for many young musicians and can often result in compromising the integrity of the original tune, Butwin’s songs seemed enhanced and empowered by their more electric arrangements. The stripped-down and rocked-out version of “I’ll Never Learn From Yesterday” was a particularly impressive improvement; the messier sounds of the electric guitar complemented the purity of Butwin’s vocals, giving it just enough imperfection to pass for rock and roll.
The most satisfying moments of the performance occurred when the band delved into different genres with their covers. The undeniable crowd favorite was the band’s flawless version of Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”, which was performed with funk undertones that added variety to a mostly hard rock showcase. The guitar virtuosity showcased during their rendition of Otis Redding’s “Mr. Pitiful” hinted at the band’s ability to create Black Keys-esque blues-based rock, which would be a welcome addition to any future release from the rock outlet.
The show was yet another successful event in the Crofoot’s ongoing effort to give exposure to local bands and performers and to improve and encourage the teeming music scene in Metro Detroit.

- OU Post- Olivia Olson

""Local Artist" by Julie Swidwinski"

For a brief time, on a Saturday night, C. K. Diggs in Rochester Hills seemingly transformed from a restaurant into a musical venue as tables were rearranged and chairs turned so that customers could shift their focus to the young musician in the corner.

That young musician was Troy resident Tom Butwin. And although his demeanor didn’t seem overpowering, wearing simply blue jeans and Beatles t-shirt, his stage presence certainly was magnetic as people inched their chairs closer and closer to the stage area with each song.

“Acoustic based rock” is what he calls his style of music. But he takes pride in knowing that, to many, he is simply uncategorical.

“ I really focus on trying not to write the same song over and over again,” said Butwin, “Some of the biggest compliments I have received from people have been that they find it hard to categorize the music I play.”

The 21-year-old’s passion for music began as a mere toddler as he staged “little shows” in his living room to the tunes of Michael Jackson. As time went by, Butwin began playing piano at six and writing his first songs at the age of 13. Now, he has accomplished a feat that only few can claim to at his age, Butwin released not his first, but his second CD early this year.

His newest self-named album contains five songs with the music and words written by Butwin. He also performed all the vocals and some guitar on the CD while other musicians, including lead singer of Sponge Vinnie Dombroski, local saxophonist Doug Cassens, keyboardist Peter Pisarcyk, who has played with George Clinton, and Marlon Young, who has written and recorded with Kid Rock and the Dave Matthew’s Band, rounded out the rest of the CD. Young, along Al Sutton, who has also worked with Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow, stepped up to do behind the scenes work in the album by producing and mixing it.

Although he’s had some talented help with in the past, Butwin’s musical career and life in general are far from easy. When he’s not performing or practicing, Butwin spends his time attending Oakland University studying political science and English. Why not study musical performance you may ask? It just wasn’t for him he said.

“I considered music as a possible major in college but I decided that a formal college education in music wasn't what I wanted,” he said. “I really enjoy having the separation between school and my music career. It keeps me pretty balanced and sane for the most part.”

Although his education is somewhere other than music, his heart is following his passion.

“I want to write, record, and perform music for a living,” he said, his biggest draw to the field being the outlet that it gives him.

“My favorite part of being a musician is by far the creative outlet it provides,” said Butwin. “It's hard to describe, but if you talk to anyone who ‘creates’ something, be it an artist, musician, writer or whatever, they'll know that feeling.”

For now, Butwin is performing live at local bars and restaurants. He tries to keep the crowd entertained by playing a mix of original songs along with those from well-known artists like the Beatles, Dave Mathew’s Band, the Rolling Stones and Elton John.

“You have to play things that people know, I try to pick things that I like and mix it with my own,” said Butwin about how he picks the songs for his sets. “But if I don’t think I can do the [mainstream] song justice than I won’t play it.”

However, during his gig at C. K. Diggs, the crowd certainly did not seem displeased as patrons held up their cell phones up in the air as makeshift lighters and then later used them to call for more people to stop by. Others, who obviously have heard Butwin before, sang along with him as he played some of his original songs.

In the future, Butwin hopes to release a live album but said that he’s mainly focused on getting more people to hear what he already has.

“I can expect to see certain people at my shows because they are my friends and tell me that they are coming, but tonight I see a lot of people who I don’t know that are here to see me,” said Butwin at his recent performance at C. K. Diggs.

His following is on the rise through the help of his CD and his website But he is most satisfied by the fact that, even in the tough music business, he’s still here.

“Separating myself from the "hobbyist" and making people realize I'm serious about this is probably what I'm most proud of,” said Butwin. “If you want to do this, you have to be persistent. Don't stop if you love it.”
- Suburban Lifestyles

"The Bates Student"

"...He soared with self-written songs "Torn" and "Run." In these, his vocals were comparable to those of John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls and Pat McGee. His music was soothing and the lyrics were relatable but also up in the air for the listeners' own interpretations. .."-Elise Edmonson "The Bates Student" Lewiston, ME - The Bates Student

"How's this for openers at Rothbury?..."

How's this for openers at Rothbury? String Cheese Incident sound check, Tom Butwin Band, Keller Williams, Cool Kids

by Troy Reimink | The Grand Rapids Press

Thursday at Rothbury was more about the anticipation, the appetizer before the meal.

As such, early-bird fans got a taste of the String Cheese Incident on Thursday night, as the popular and quasi-reunited jam band made an unannounced appearance on the main Odeum stage, otherwise vacant on opening night, to conduct a not-so-secret soundcheck.

The band, scheduled to headline tonight -- performing four hours opposite nobody, as it happens -- is the major draw at this early stage of Rothbury, based on unscientific polling of random festival-goers.

As word spread about the impromptu helping of Cheese, fans made their way across the sprawling festival grounds to catch an earful. The group only jammed for about a half-hour, and a lot of it involved such exciting stuff as adjusting drum levels in stage monitors, but it was enough to excite an eager crowd.

Just minutes earlier, festival-opening honors had gone to the Tom Butwin Band of Detroit, a four-piece rock group that won its slot in a contest sponsored by a Fox TV affiliate in the city. The band's set on the Sherwood Court stage began 15 minutes after the festival grounds opened at 6 p.m., and one might have expected a mad dash to the stage reminiscent of the B-93 Birthday Bash.

A leisurely stroll was more like it, the only dashes being in pursuit of errant Frisbees. But by the time the band finished its 45-minute set -- which included a cover of Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" (timely!) -- the empty field in front of them had filled with festival wildlife.

And so the second Rothbury began in earnest. All day, cars with license plates from California to New Jersey and most points in between proceeded without much incident from the Winston Road exit off U.S. 31 into the vast camping area at the Double JJ Ranch, in Rothbury, north of Muskegon.

The night that followed was full of jam acts, rock bands, rappers and DJs competing for attention with the spectacle of the Sherwood Forest, which, as night descended, burst with color, light and spontaneous performance art, most of it glowy and trippy.

As music went, the most popular act of the evening, at least before the sun set, appeared to be Keller Williams, a singer and guitarist who performs solo but uses a delay pedal system to build a full band's worth of accompaniment. Williams is a frequent collaborator with String Cheese Incident, and one wonders if he'll join the group on stage tonight. No time like the present.

On the Sherwood Court stage across the grounds, a stream of hip-hop artists was smartly counter-programmed against jam acts -- Lotus and the Disco Biscuits -- who occupied the Ranch Arena stage. Best among the Sherwood performers were California MC Lyrics Born, backed by a full band, and Chicago duo the Cool Kids, players in a revival of old-school hip-hop.

Up to that point, I counted four Michael Jackson tributes -- Tom Butwin Band, Williams' creative take on "Rock With You," a good chunk of the Lifesavas DJ set, an instrumental medley from Lyrics Born's band -- but there may have been more. This promises to be a theme of the weekend. I look forward to String Cheese's 25-minute version of "Beat It." -, Grand Rapids Press

"Detroit band wins "Fox Rocks" Contest to play Rothbury"

Detroit band wins 'Fox Rocks' contest to play Rothbury on Thursday

by John Sinkevics | The Grand Rapids Press

Detroit acoustic pop-rock outfit The Tom Butwin Band outpolled more than 190 other Michigan bands to win an online contest sponsored by Detroit's WJBK Channel 2 (FOX) giving them the festival's opening slot on the Sherwood Court stage.

The band will play at 6:15 p.m. Thursday, the first scheduled performance of the four-day festival on the Double JJ Ranch north of Muskegon.

WJBK this week also listed 11 other bands who received at least 3,000 votes in the contest, including Grand Haven's Death By Dancing and Grand Rapids' Southpaw Players.

As the contest winner, the Tom Butwin Band also will perform a 15-minute set at 5:30 p.m. Friday on the main Odeum Stage. -, Grand Rapids Press


"This & Hereafter" - Released March/April 2013 (Full)

"Sunday Sessions EP" - Released September 2012 (EP)

"Sweet Days In London" - Released February 2012 (Single)

"Hello again." - Released May 2009 (Full)

"Live & Acoustic-12.27.08"-Released January 2009 (Live EP)

“Promotional Acoustic Demo”- Released July 2007 (EP)

“EP” - Released February 2006 (EP)

“Living Room”- Released 2004 (Full)



As a product of Motown’s suburbs, singer/songwriter/guitarist Tom Butwin has spent his relatively short 10-year career honing a distinctive and polished tenor voice, while dialing in a sound that he describes as "familiar acoustic pop, but with a few fun stylistic surprises." Since 2003, Tom has released three full-length albums, the most recent being 2013's This & Hereafter. "I really wanted to put together a cohesive and relatable collection of songs that I could sing with the same intensity every night …and I think I've got that on this one," says Butwin of the new album compared to his previous efforts. From the hopeful and ukulele-driven opening track, "Harmony," to the steady march of "No Sleep," a song that deals with a soldier's struggle while at war, to the gospel infused closer “Baby Girl/Love Will,” This & Hereafter is made to catch, and keep, your attention.

Tom Butwin was raised on a healthy musical diet of George Harrison, Billy Joel, and Michael Jackson, and his folk-inspired brand of soul pop stands out when compared with the "grittier" sound usually associated with Detroit. Butwin uses acoustic instruments, horns, lush vocals, & radio-ready arrangements to fit right alongside singer/songwriters like Matt Wertz, John Mayer, & Jason Mraz, both on record and during live shows.

With his full band and acoustic duo performances, Tom Butwin is quickly becoming a Michigan festival staple after performances at the 2008 & 2012 Ford Arts, Beats, & Eats festivals, 2009 Detroit River Days Festival, and his stand-out showing on the main stage and secondary stage at the 2009 Rothbury Music Festival alongside Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, & the Grateful Dead. Look for Tom at many more Michigan festivals and venues throughout 2013 promoting and playing songs from This & Hereafter.


Tom's new album, "This & Hereafter," is a collection of 11 brand new songs. The album is a product of a 14-day songwriting marathon Tom embarked on during May of 2012. "I wrote and recorded a demo of a new song everyday, for 14 days straight, last Spring...and this album is what came of it," says Butwin of the creative exercise. Tom spent the remainder of 2012 polishing and recording the songs he wrote during those sessions for the album about to be released. "This & Hereafter" features some of Detroit's finest producers, engineers, and musicians and their work. Keith Kaminski (Motor City Horns, Brothers Groove, Bob Seger), Drew Howard (Billy Brandt, Jill Jack), Chris Codish (Brothers Groove, Johnnie Bassett, Hiram Bullock), & Al Sutton (Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow) all make their presence felt on the record, amongst many others.

Quick Facts:

-Since his solo debut in 2004, Tom Butwin has released 3 full length albums, 4 EPs, and multiple singles.

-Tom has been invited by student activity boards at over 10 major Midwest and East-coast universities to perform...without any college market representation.

- Tom has been invited to share the stage with such notable acts as: Tristan Prettyman, Todd Carey, Sugar Ray, Spin Doctors, John Butler Trio, Seth Glier, and G. Love & Special Sauce (side-stage).