Stories Behind the Songs

Tom Neilson

Worship Leader: Jay Gardner

Accompanist: Eileen Morrison

About our Service

Tom Neilson is a storyteller who will weave an autobiographical sketch that delves into the stories behind his songs. Beginning with his dairy farm roots and proceeding to the Vietnam War, liberation struggles, border crossings, pipelines, parenting, sexuality, lost loves and anything that didn’t get covered in the Saturday night concert and whatever there is time for Sunday morning. It is about choices and forks in the road from a lifetime of navigating a path in search of truth and being NORMAL in a dysfunctional world.

About our Speaker

Tom Neilson has performed his powerful, change-effecting, folk music with his voice and guitar in 21 countries on five continents. He has earned numerous recognitions, winning several folk festivals and the 2012 and 2016 Independent Music Awards People’s Choice for song of the year for social action. A celebrated veteran of both musical stages and street theater, Tom writes compassionate, humorous songs about historical and current events, intertwining his worldwide travel experiences with his upstate New York dairy farm roots and his fervent commitment to social and environmental justice.

Tom has worked for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and as a Peace Corps training director, rural development consultant, interpreter, coach, and carpenter’s assistant.  He has taught musical theater, songwriting, English, and physical education, and worked with people with addictions, disabilities, HIV, and other public health issues.

Combining art with activism at countless benefit concerts, this Jon Stewart of folk music has helped frontline communities organizing against fracking, toxic waste, water privatization, mountaintop removal, nuclear energy, incinerators, GMOs, and globalization. Tom’s witty, sophisticated, and politically astute lyrics tell the stories of struggles for human rights against greed and violence.  Known locally in his current home place of Greenfield, western Massachusetts, as the Bard Insurgent, Tom also enjoys backpacking in the Rockies with his partner Lynn and barnstorming with their son Jacob and ex-Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee.

Pennies from Heaven is January 6th

Please save all your coins for the first Sunday of each month, and remember bills are welcome too! Pennies from Heaven donations are given to Meals on Wheels programs in Mandarin and Clay County and are alternated each quarter.