Wendy Wever: How did you end up in Antigua?
Tom Graham: Love. It was in ’86, I was traveling. I used to live in Northern California where I had 40 acres of land up there with a house I built. I was running a community center and building houses for people. In winter it was always raining so I came down to Mexico, Southern Mexico and Guatemala in my winters. So in 1986, while I was driving with a couple of friends, (we were driving a StudeBaker Hawk and had a couple of California ray babes with us) we decide to come on down to Antigua. I met this girl down here from Switzerland while I was here. So I packed the ray babes off to Costa Rica so I could hook up with the girl from Switzerland.
Then I came back the next year, and the next, and so on, till I started spending half a year down here. Then in ’92 I met my wife, ex-wife, here in Antigua, and we started up a couple of businesses and had some kids and settled down, and one thing led to another. I have been here for 20 years now. Twenty years hanging out and playing music. We had a band, Otis Brown and the Blue Dawgs, and we used to play all over Guatemala. We played in Xela, The City, Panajachel, parties, venues.
I love to play music. I do it mostly for my own self-gratification, if we make money at it occasionally, well that’s good too.
Well it’s funny when people ask why did you come to Antigua? Cause I will meet people and then they will ask, “how long have you been here?” And then it comes out and I don’t know, one thing just led to another. It was just a simple twist of fate. That’s just the way life is, it’s not so much planned.
WW: Why do you play the harmonica. Which is what you play mostly now.
TG: I used to play guitar, I had a problem with my arms. I don’t play rhythm that well anymore. I always played the harmonica. My father played harmonica. He used to play harmonica on the river boats with my grandmother back in the 20’s. We always played bongos and jazz and my family always listened to music. So I play harmonica; it is easy to get around and I am more fluent on it, I’d say. So I play harmonica and sing. My dad had one always sitting around the house. As far back as I can remember. I remember, like, back in ’64 having a guitar and a harness and playing “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” an old Bob Dylan song. I remember playing and strumming the cords, singing and playing the harmonica. One thing just led to another. I just picked it up and kept going with it to the point where…
WW: Where can we go see you play?
Well it’s the same as Willie. Wednesday nights at The No Sé. Willie and I unplugged – almost live. Friday Night The Blue Dawgs / Chupacabras at La Sala and wherever else we play. Sometimes Saturdays at parties and different events.
WW: So what do you think of La Cuadra?
TG: I think it is a good addition to the cultural scene here in Antigua. There’s lots of good articles. It’s a place for people to blow off a little verbal steam, so-ta speak, get a few things off their chest and create. La Cuadra is a good thing, great ads!