Tommy John Ehman Band

Tommy John Ehman Band

 Craik, Saskatchewan, CAN

TJE music is best described as a blend of country rock, alternative country and roots music and has been compared to such artists as Steve Earle, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen and Charlie Major. The live show is energetic and exciting and every effort is made to make each and every show as memorable as possible.

Band Press

Future is now for Tommy John Ehman – Regina Leader Post

Monday » April 28 » 2008

Future is now for Ehman

Andrew Matte
The Leader-Post

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tommy John Ehman

Tonight -- Saturday

The Pump Roadhouse

Tommy John Ehman's newest CD Wheels of Life is more than another country-rock record released by an independent Saskatchewan musician.

This 43-year-old full-time farmer took out a loan, spent a year crafting his songs and enlisted as much help as he could during the recording process, including big name assistance from Garry Tallent, bassist for Bruce Springteen's E-Street Band.

Ehman, who earned a living in his 20s as a musician and member of country-rock outfit Idle Rains, returned to his farm about seven years ago to support his young family.

But Ehman is now driven by more than his passion for music -- after being diagnosed retinitis pigmatosis, he was faced with deteriorating vision and the difficult reality that he soon won't be able to see well enough to contribute to his busy grain farm in Craik.

Exactly how fast he'll lose his sight or whether, at the end, he'll still be able to see at all isn't known -- so he's hoping by putting his best musical foot forward, he'll be able to return to his life as a full-time musician, as well as earn enough to support his family when his disease makes it impossible for him to tend to the fields.

"Maybe this project will put me where I need to go," Ehman says.

"Part of why we've put such a big effort into this is because if I can get back into playing music for a living, it's something that someone who can't see very well can do.

"It's not that I want to get off the farm, but I am in a bit of a dilemma here."

It was about five years ago when Ehman began to experience occasional partial blindness, as well as an increased difficulty seeing at night. Several meetings with specialists confirmed the diagnosis, something that came as a shock to him and his family, but an issue he's been able to put into perspective since.

"I knew something was going on when I started to get these blind spots and my night vision was really bad. But hopefully it won't progress too quickly and won't leave me too disabled.

"But I try not and think about it."

Ehman had always had his head around being a musician. In his early 20s, he left Craik to join a band that travelled Western Canada playing songs from the likes of Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam. Later, he joined Idle Rains, which earned a following across Saskatchewan. They released Wasted Nights in 1996 and To The Wall in 2002.

But Ehman, the chief songwriter and singer for the band, decided to branch off right about the time of his diagnosis. In 2005, Ehman released a low budget but widely praised collection of acoustic numbers called Like Father; Like Son.

Now, having dropped the Idle Rains name even though his old bandmates still play in the Tommy Ehman Band, he's hoping that he's learned enough about how to write songs and how to manipulate the music industry well enough to succeed commercially like he never has before.

"I wouldn't say that I was frustrated with how we were doing. But I would say that maybe those early albums weren't as good as they could have been. But we worked our way up. When you're doing independent albums, whether you hit it big is pretty hit and miss," Ehman says.

"When I was 21, I thought that we'd put this album out and we'd be huge. But I know now that it doesn't work that way. And it's a lot more hard work than I thought. So there are so many things that I have learned along the way that we are doing now that we didn't do before. So, with the right people helping me along the way, we can make something out of this."

The 11-song CD includes crisp, energetic country rock that he believes is the best music he's ever recorded, thanks to his own efforts, but also the help of others. He was also able to scrape together enough cash to make this his biggest-budget release ever.

"I worked really hard on the songwriting. I worked for about a year on these songs. And I really worked those songs, or at least I thought I did. And we put a really strong effort into the recording. And it was our biggest-budget record. So hopefully, you put all that together and you're going to have a better product."

The biggest help came from Regina's Brad Prosko, who serves as the album's producer and arranger, and the one who introduced Ehman to Tallent, who normally earns a living in Nashville as a member of the E-Street Band.

Prosko and Tallent had crossed paths when Prosko visited Nashville as part of a project the two men had contributed to. After Prosko heard the first versions of Ehman's song, he suggested Tallent could be recruited to help. And thanks to the timing, and the fact Tallent has a part-time studio in nearby Montana, he agreed to play bass on all 11 songs.

"When (Prosko) first sent me the e-mail, I had to look at the computer screen twice," Ehman recalls. "He said that Gary Tallent is a guy who, if he would do it, would be great playing on this stuff."

Not long after that, he spent a day to travel to Tallent's studio in rustic Whitefish and spent a few days recording Tallent's bass parts.

"Not only to have his name attached to it but just the way the songs sound to me, the feel he puts into it, the way he interprets it, it really adds to the tracks, I think.

"To have him part of this is amazing, really."

In the meantime, Ehman is spending the winter trying to generate support among radio stations and perform to the usual bar crowds in hopes Wheels of Life will help him begin a new, more successful stage of his career.

"Every little thing that has happened has told me that something really good is going to come of this. And to me, there's a lot of trust in the product. But still, I understand that it's a crap shoot.

"But then again, I'm not going to give up something that I'm this passionate about."

CD - Review – Larry Delaney - Country Music News

Tommy John Ehman, from Craik, Saskatchewan, writes and sings a lot like Charlie Major. Right away...ya gotta like that!! Ehman has that same gutsy, gritty and always topical approach with the message and delivery of his songs. "Wheels Of Life" is Tommy John Ehman's debut disc, featuring all original songs. A common thread throughout the album is 'the soldier's life', and 'patriotism'. And for a really neat change-of-pace, the patriotism this time is devoted to Ehman's 'Canadian' roots...unlike the endless stream of American 'war hero' songs that fills Nashville's releases.

The 'soldier' songs here include such items as the anthemic "Jack And The Letters Home", "I'm A Soldier", "Song For The Soldier" and the flag waving "Red, White And Red", a really neat song by Ehman which stresses his love for the "the Canadian Way".

The album does feature other themes. The lead single, "Stand Up For Your Country" is a powerful message song, while the title track "Wheels Of Life" is a driving item; both of these emphasizing the comparison to Charlie Major's music. Other winners here come in "Flo's Bar And Grill" which deals with survival in a small town lifestyle; while "When The Walls Come Down" is a bluesy number, showing Ehman's ability to handle different moods with his music. Listen also for the inspirational "Walk A Little Lighter With Me"; and the 'self-discovery' song, "A Hill Of Beans".

The album closes out with the song "Faith And Freedom", a philosophical rant of sorts by Tommy John Ehman, which speaks of his patriotism, his pride in being a Canadian...and what it takes to be a Canadian. My kinda guy!!

"Wheels Of Life" was produced by Brad Prosko and recorded at his studio in Regina, SK.