Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 404

Getting sick, USA stylie

I still don’t get the USA medical system.


Chicken Maryland

I live in Maryland, where Chicken Maryland must come from – right? Wrong!

‘The dish known in the UK as Chicken Maryland, popular in the 1960s, consisted of fried chicken (often in breadcrumbs) served with sweetcorn fritters and fried bananas. It is likely that it was derived as an alternative for the American version of the dish. In England, there is a small chain of stores known as Maryland Chicken, mostly found in Leicestershire. There is no connection between the store name and the traditional dish, however. Their menu consists of normal fried-chicken cuisine, similar to KFC.’


Chicken Maryland Mexican style, apparently

Chicken Maryland Mexican style, apparently

Wichita / Leeds

Wichita was recently being joked about by a group of American friends. When I said I would have to look up Wichita to find out about it, an American friend who has been to the UK likened it to Leeds.

Wichita = Leeds.






How short are shorts – the debate

I recently followed an amusing Facebook conversation by some American mothers about the appropriate length of shorts for their teenage girls. Obviously, I just think in terms of Daisy Dukes. And they are v v v v short.


Rock ‘n’ Roll USA

Hear this: ‘Be not afraid of dudeness: some are born dudes, some achieve dudeness and some have dudeness thrust upon them.’

Yep, I’m totally bastardising the great Bard’s words to introduce you to Tom Gillam, who I think is a total USA dude. Bona fide rock dude!

And here’s why….

Tom Gillam is a rock ‘n’ roll dude who I chanced upon in Gruene, Texas. This is his interview. Enjoy! (Best read with a bit of Tom’s music playing.….)

Occupation: Getting paid to do what I would probably do for free 🙂
Location: Austin, Texas / The World

1. So, you are like a proper rock and roll dude. Tell us a little bit about your life.
Hmmm, I live like a cat which is to say I have hours of frolic followed by many naps! As my friend Grant Alden (former editor of No Depression magazine) said “you get paid to gaze out the window and dream of melodies along with carting your gear around the world”. The actual show I get to perform is just the icing on the cake.

If music be the food of love, play on!

If music be the food of love, play on!

2. You are originally from New Jersey (I heard your song about it!) – what brought you down to Texas?
The short answer is my music seemed to resonate in TX much more than NJ. In NJ, if I said I was a musician they’d reply with “Oh, what do you do as your day job?” In Texas they say “Where are you playing next?” I toured through Texas for about 8 years after my first LP came out (Texas was my first taste of radio airplay!) and always thought “I should move here” I brought my wife with me one time and she kinda said the same thing, next thing you know I’m living in Austin, TX!!

3. What kinds of things inspire you to write songs and music?
It can really be anything. I’m more inspired by melody and music than I am lyrics, which is what I labor over. If I look back on my body of work (8 studio LPs) and comb through the lyrics it seems the best thing I can come up with is “personal politics” which I believe is navigating every day stuff we all go through, filtered through my eyes and a bit of story telling……make any sense to you? ‘Cause I just got confused!! 😉

4. We Brits have an image of Texas that is a lot to do with cowboys, but Texas is more about cowboys, right?
Yes, yes and another YES. I have not met many real “cowboys” in my 6½ years living here. There are a whole lot of people who dress the part, but that’s kind of every place you go isn’t it? I find people wear the “uniform” of where they would like to fit in, so if your heroes are “cowboys” you wear the “hat” , if they happen to be “acoustic based alt rock band guys” you wear a long beard, if it’s “hip alt country singer songwriter “wish I was Emmy Lou Harris” girls” you wear the sundress and cowboy boots. As for myself I stick to the classics and by that I mean “Rock dude circa 1972” Jeans, Dr. Marten boots, lots of rings, western style shirt…and eyeliner…..okay, not really the eyeliner but I’m contemplating it so you never know, Ronnie Wood does right?;)

Tom's music

Tom’s music

5. What are the main cultural differences between New Jersey and Texas (or East Coast and the South?)
The cultural mix is much broader in the East and by that I mean lots of Italians, Irish, African/American & Jewish people all living around each other, hating one another verbally but still somehow managing to get along. The South (or Southwest in the case of Texas) Have a lot of Germans so things get done in an orderly, Caucasian, “let’s eat a lot of meats and cheeses” kind of way. The other difference is most East Coasters consider themselves part of “the world” while most native Texans consider Texas “the world” or the only place on earth that matters

6. If you had to do an elevator pitch to promote lifestyle, what would you say?
What they hell is an “elevator pitch”? (Excellent response, Tom!)

7. Complete this sentence. Texas is…
A fantastic place to live and work…except in the summer, when it’s so hot it’s like living on the sun.

Texas landscape

Texas landscape

8. Complete this sentence. The USA is….
My home. I’ve been to a lot of places worldwide but no matter how fantastic those places are I still pine for the good ‘ol US of A, with all of it’s flaws it’s still the only place in the world a guy like me could do what I do and live how I live!

9. What’s next for Tom Gillam and the Kosmic Messengers?
David Spencer (guitar) and I will be touring Germany and the Netherlands next month (May). I’ll be touring with a side project called U.S. Rails in Spain, France & Italy for the rest of April and a bit of May. Then the plan is to record a new CD hopefully in July with a fall release. In the meantime there will be an acoustic CD released in Germany to go along with the tour first and here by summer. Most people think this job is easy, it’s not, it’s a whole lot of fun (mostly) but while most people work 8hrs a day my job seems to be a 24/7. I’m not complaining just stating a fact.

10. You’ve expressed to me an appreciation of British culture – what do you like particularly about the UK, and have you ever been there?
Unfortunately I’ve not yet been to the UK…yet, at least in this lifetime. There is a part of me that feels as if I may have lived there in a another place and time, mostly because the voice in my head ever since I was child has been British, and not just any old generic Brit accent but a real honest to goodness speaking proper London “Queen’s English” person. This helps quite a lot whist crafting e-mails!

Rock 'n' roll baby!

Rock ‘n’ roll baby!

11. What/who are your musical influences?
I think the obvious ones are artists from about 1968-1976 ,which would have been the time I became serious about music or “come of age” (around 10yrs old). The style of music I do is a mix of “country sounding” rock mixed with a healthy dose of “English style” guitar rock. To list my influences would actually take up too much space and time . I REALLY love music so when something catches my ear I become passionately consumed by it. That being said these days and at my age those instances are becoming few and far in between, but I’m open to possibilities

12. Finally, what’s your favourite song that you’ve written?
This is going to sound quite cliché but, songs are like children and it’s not fair to love one more than another. That being said, I do go through phases, especially with the older tunes, they bring back interesting feelings not only the lyrical content but about the time in which they were written. I like to revisit feelings and memories that way. The reality is my favorite song is the one I’ve just written and the one I will be writing at any given time. Vague I know, but I’m really so much better at just doing this stuff than actually thinking about it. 🙂

Tom rocks it out!

Tom rocks it out!

You are quite lucky to be English, as your accent takes no work at all and is so charming and proper that getting your way is more than easy! Your country’s heritage and culture are as rich and wonderful as any in the world and no one on the planet rivals the British humor!!

The fact that you write about differences and similarities of our worlds is fun, and fascinating, please never stop! The difference between you and I is you get to go back to England and call it home at some point, while I must be content to visit or always be a “Yank“….oh well, maybe next lifetime, eh?


And ‘Cheers’ to you too, Tom! 🙂


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5 Responses to Desperate English Housewife in Washington, chapter 404

  1. Mindy Helms says:

    His “PS” remarks are quite true. Couldn’t have said it better myself!

  2. Carol says:

    I lived in Austin for over 10 years, and I loved it! Perhaps I could have done without the heat in the summer. I was living in California, and visited a friend in Austin. Everywhere we went, people would stop and talk to her and go on and on. After they finished, I would ask her how she knew the person, and she would tell me that she didn’t know the person, that was just how Texans were. Once I moved there I found it to be so true.

    I had lived just outside Boston for a few years, and found it very difficult to befriend the local people. Coming from the midwest, my accent gave me away as an outsider and the just weren’t very welcoming. It may be different now, though.

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