TOM PASSAMONTE – THE BEGINNINGTom was born into a very musical family starting with his grandfather Austin, followed by his father and his brothers. As a kid, he grew up around guitars, mandolins, banjos, and accordions. Tom was fascinated with guitars that quickly became his primary instrument of choice.Tom’s grandfather Austin taught him his first basic chords on the guitar at the age of 10. Austin’s brother Tom also taught him some jazz chords. His father Tom Monte was a jazz accordionist, with a fantastic singing voice. He performed for 70 years, starting professionally at 12 years old! Tom’s early influences were The Four Freshmen, Charlie Byrd, Freddie Green, Frank Sinatra, Ricky Nelson, Elvis, and the Everly Brothers. Then the Beatles arrived, which greatly influenced his guitar and singing styles. The Beatles also gave him the initiative to write his own songs, learning about Buddy Holly from the Beatles. Then came Eric Clapton and B.B. King and the Blues! Tom learned the Blues from them and loved it. From there he discovered Wes Montgomery and Herb Ellis and learned some great Jazz. From there Tom became a fan of Chet Atkins and learned “a little bit of Country” to round out his musical talent. Keeping music in the family, his daughter Sara also performs as a lead vocalist and his son Justin performs on piano, guitar, percussion, singer, and production engineer. The rest is history! Performing professionally since 1968, Tom has been the lead singer and guitarist and driving force for Special Blend since its inception.SPECIAL BLEND - Current LineupTom Passamonte Vocals and Guitar Steve Vullo Drums, Percussion, and Vocals Rocky Kaler Bass and Vocals HISTORYSpecial Blend originated in 1980 with Tom doing vocals and guitar and M’Lou Speranza doing vocals and piano. Tom’s brother Joe, also a professional musician and singer, became their drummer in 1982. Along with Tom and M’Lou, bassists Dennis Green and Dave Tiberio also joined the band. Joe left Special Blend in the late ‘80’s for a European Tour with singer Gene Ferrari. At that point, Steve Vullo became Special Blend’s drummer and percussionist. Joe eventually returned to Special Blend after his European Tour, making the early 1990’s band lineup Tom on vocals and guitar, Dave on base and vocals, and Joe on drums and percussion. Dave remained the primary bass player from 1992 through 1996, and to date, still sits in with us on selected performances.In 1997, the new group lineup was Tom doing vocals and guitar, Rick Ventura on bass and vocals, and Gary Yani on drums and percussion. This lineup from 1997 still plays together today on selected performances. Also in 1997, Rocky Kaler joined the band as their primary bassist as well as vocals. In the early 2000's, Steve rejoined Special Blend as their drummer and percussionist as well as vocals.The current Special Blend lineup of Tom, Steve, and Rocky continue to play weekly at various venues throughout Western NY, with occasional performances with the 1990's of Tom, Rick, and Gary.