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What’s in a name? Tommy Prine forges his own musical path

Bill DeYoung



Tommy Prine. Photo: S.A.D. Music.

Although he was born and raised in Nashville, singer/songwriter Tommy Prine has a soft spot for Gulfport, where his parents bought a home in 2005. “Whenever I talk about my childhood, I have to mention Gulfport,” Prine says, “because we spent so much time there on Spring Breaks, and over the summer, and just getaways for a couple weeks.”

Tommy and his older brother Jack sometimes brought school friends along on long Gulfport weekends. “That place holds a very special place in my heart – and in my family’s heart, for sure.”

Prine, who’ll perform a solo acoustic show Thursday at The Hideaway Cafe, is the son of the late songwriting legend John Prine and his wife Fiona.

He’s a natural born storyteller, just like his old man. Bit of a raconteur. Bit of a wiseass.

In fact, he’ll perform a few of dad’s tunes, along with a bunch of his own stuff, at the concert. The 26-year-old is almost done mixing his debut album, which he hopes to have out early in 2022.

Tommy Prine, however, is not John Prine. He is very much his own man, and his own musician.

The album, he explains, “is definitely a little bit louder than my dad’s music. Alternative rock, I would say, is the main gist. But I can only get so far away from my musical roots and influences, so there’s definitely some kind of Americana, folkie, finger-picking, chicken-pickin’ kind of stuff on there. There’s a little bit of everything.

“This first record is kind of an absolute way to show my creative process, and what kind of swims around in my head. It’s a good introduction to me as a person and me as an artist.”

Prine family photo.

He was 10, he remembers, when he first picked up a guitar. There was never, ever, any pressure to get into the family business – “focus on school, but in your free time, all your other stuff, do what makes you happy,” he says they told him.

“I think kids end up mimicking what they see – when I was younger, I just thought that’s what adults did. They picked an instrument and jammed out in front of people. That was part of the human experience!

“I saw my dad do it, and obviously thought it was super-cool … and when I got into adolescence and got into my rock phase, I got obsessed with playing the guitar.”

Young Tommy was a shredder, with posters of Eddie Van Halen and Kurt Cobain on his bedroom walls.

Mom and Dad were cool about it all.

“They never discouraged me,” Prine says. “I think they just wanted to let it go and see where it took me. I don’t think it’s to anyone in the family’s surprise that I’m doing what I’m doing now.”

RELATED STORY: John Prine, one year later: Remembering everything

Sometimes, John would bring Tommy and Jack onstage to play their acoustics alongside him.

“I would see these people that had lived full lives, and they would be like ‘Oh, your dad’s amazing’ and all that stuff. And I would get to go backstage, and I started listening to some of the music and becoming a fan of the people that would be around us.

“That was when it started to hit me, I guess, who he was and how big of an effect he had on the music industry, and on people in general. I feel like I’m just now wrapping my head around the family I have.”

At press time, Thursday’s Hideaway performance was sold out. Check the website for any last-minute availabilities.

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