Message by Mike and Michael Thomas Carder
“Jane had Tarzan, Lois Lane had Superman but in Fairport we had Tom Estes. We anticipated his every showing like kids waiting for Christmas. And after the traditional snakebites he and the band would leave and we would start counting the days till they came back. We were "brothers from another mother". He was my son's namesake, his Uncle Tom. Our challenge is to live up to his legacy as a person who didn't just overcome adversity, but attacked and conquered it. We love you Tom!!”
“I first met Tommy while in the employ of Mike Carder. I was Mike's chef at the time at a place called Maddy's in Fairport, NY. Shorts bar, which Mike formerly owned, located just down the street from Maddy's, was having their 20 year anniversary party. Tommy's band was coming to play that weekend. For the next 2 weeks, all I heard about was this one-armed phenom named Tom Estes, who sang, played drums, keyboards, and blew harp like a demon.
I must admit, I was skeptical. The way Mike & others were raving about this man, seemed to me that they had to be exaggerating. The band rolled into town the day of the gig, and I cooked lunch for them and was introduced to Tom for the 1st time. Right away, I noticed his warm & friendly personality and his infectious laugh and smile. After work that night, I went to Shorts to see what the hoopla was all about. My senses were not prepared for what I saw & heard that night as Tom led his band through a blistering set. Most of the night I stood there open jawed, too stunned to even clap. It was quite possibly the finest performance I ever witnessed anywhere.
It was very obvious that Tommy had but a few peers in this town, and that is saying something seeing that Rochester has produced the likes of Chuck Mangione, Steve Gadd, Chet Catello, and others. The thing that impressed me most though, was the way he approached the harmonica. The harp is the most abused instrument out there. Any fool can play one, but in the hands of a genius, it can be very powerful.
Tom's approach was simple: he'd leave it in his pocket till it was time to solo, then he'd take it out blow the roof off the joint then put it back, leaving the audience always wanting more. That's the way all the great ones are, the music just flows through them, channeled from some place the rest of us mortal's can't comprehend…I had the great fortune of sharing the same stage with Tom on a few of our Maddy Gras celebrations over the years. Playing guitar with that band was one of my greatest thrills ever, and for at least once in my life, I ran with the big dogs.
So that was his gift to the world and he shared it with as many people as he could in his short stay in this place. To all of the up & coming players & performers in Tommy's hometown, do yourself a favor before you run with the big dogs, go out and find a copy of Tommy performing a song called "running out of time" then kneel & bow your head.”
Message by Melissa Sheedy (MacDonald)
“Tom was one of the most talented, courageous people I've ever met. To overcome such an unfortunate accident at a young age, and to actually become a musician, shows how much strength and courage he had. He was always smiling…”
Message by friend, musician, Tom Keegan
“…"T" was an inspiration and an instant charge to every musician he stepped on stage with. I was lucky to be in that company on countless nights. Tommy was full of love and fun. He put so many great smiles and laughs in my life…”
“There are so many positive dualities to you, T: completely confident while staying humble about your huge talent; taking your music seriously, while not letting the frustrations of the "bizniz" effect your sense of fun; shrugging off what for others might have been a devastating disability; and making it look easy (and it ain't easy) blowing a soft acoustic "fwee fwee" on the harp ten seconds before jumping off a balcony onto the stage, where you'd blow that thing loud and like a man possessed (blowing minds in the process); pounding out a thunderous drum solo that was always musical, not just loud for the sake of making noise; being kind and thoughtful toward younger musicians in a business full of cynics (I remember you giving an impromptu late-night lesson to a young drummer once, pointing to the snare and telling him, "hit that thing... it won't hit you back!")You could sing intensely sad songs that made people forget their own troubles (for as long as the song lasted anyway); you made a lot of people very happy for a long time, now make them very blue by leaving so soon.”