SOUTH PORTLAND- Thomas ‘Tom’ Woodbury Blackwell passed away just minutes before midnight on January 4th, 2023. He was at home surrounded by his two beloved children, Miles and Janey, and his lifelong partner/co-parent, Joanne. Tom discovered that he had an aggressive brain tumor the day after Christmas, and spent his last week surrounded by friends, family, and music. He had just turned 74 on December 30.
Tom was a profoundly talented musician, composer, producer, and audio engineer. Drummer extraordinaire, master recordist and organic musical genius among his many descriptors. Tom chose music as his form of storytelling, and the story he told was often moody, consistently creative, and always authentic. His discography is expansive and those who were able to collaborate with him were among some of the luckiest. His collaborators include (but are not limited to) Carrie Coltrane, Michael McGinnis and John Stivers. Over the course of his life, he anchored the rhythm section of several bands including (but not limited to) Andrea Re and Clouds, Vito and the Groove Kings, Rick Charette and the Bubblegum Band, and the Bridgewalkers. As an audio engineer, Tom helped start Portland’s first professional recording studio with his longtime business partner, Tim Tierney. They aptly named it The Studio and went on to record many of Maine’s best bands and voices. His mixes have been likened to those of Bob Clearmountain’s, speaking volumes to the jury of his peers. We imagine him deep in celestial rhythm with his late friend and bassist, Rob Roy.
If you were to sit down and ask him, he would say his most cherished composition and accomplishment was his family - his two kids and the life he and Joanne built. It was equal parts beautiful, messy, unconventional, and remarkable. He was the best of us - gentle, kind, soft spoken, and committed to peace. His life story was one of pure love. Tom persevered in the face of hardships and mental illness, consistently holding his truth far above any stigmas. He was every bit a hero and will be missed deeply by all those fortunate enough to know him. Beyond music and his family, Tom was most content with a Manhattan, a New England Patriots game, a cat, and the latest John Grisham novel.
He is survived by his two children, Miles and Janey; his lifelong partner and co-parent, Joanne Orr; his brother and sister-in-law, Robert and Lucinda Blackwell of Falmouth, Maine; and his brother Michael S. Blackwell of Acton, Maine.
Online condolence messages can be submitted at the Chad E. Poitras Cremation and Funeral Service website, www.mainefuneral.com
A celebration of life will be held in the summer. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to:
Good Medicine Collective/Riverbird
C/o Exchange Street Partners
120 Exchange Street
Portland, ME 04101
C/o Kristin Robichaud