CULTURE- FRIDAYS UPDATE- Principal player: Principato brings quintet to town


DC-area blues guitarist Tom Principato rarely shows his face around town these days, but his roots here go back several decades. "I've been playing in Charlottesville for years," he says. "I started playing at frat houses in 1982."

He later graduated to Trax and the Mousetrap until– after popping in and out of the area several times for stints in Boston, Pittsburgh, and Austin– 

he finally settled in DC for the long haul. While he was there, road-tripping it for shows at the C&O gave him his longest-running Charlottesville home. 

"I played there when it was first called Sandy's," he recalls. After original owner Sandy McAdams left and the music hall closed up shop, Principato kept his Charlottesville connections alive by working with local musicians like Jimmy O and bassist-for-hire Steve Riggs.

Years later, though, Principato's calling card is still "Blazing Telecasters," the album he recorded with the late Danny Gatton in 1984. "I had known Danny for about ten years at that point," says Principato. "He often had a lot of frustration with the music industry at times, so he would go into semi-retirement. I thought a fun project would be to coax Danny out of retirement and add him to my band."

That usually means a trio, but recent lineup changes have led to the current five-piece ensemble with which he's working on the follow-up to his most recent disc, Guitar Gumbo. Released in 2005, the album is very Katrina conscious: Principato calls it "an eclectic amalgamation of Louisiana style funky stuff" influenced by the Neville Brothers and Professor Longhair.

Opening for Principato this week at Fridays after Five are the Deltas, Albemarle High School students and members of the AHS Jazz Band. Their first CD, Music from the Red Folder, was recorded last year at the Music Resource Center. 

Tom Principato and the Deltas rock Fridays after Five August 24 at the Pavilion on the east end of the Downtown Mall... guess the time.