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Spill it: A conversation with Tom Schultz

Friday, March 14, 2008 | 3:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:03 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Celtic musician Tom Schultz plays a bodhrán, a traditional Irish drum, during an informal performance at Kayotea in downtown Columbia. Schultz had the bodhrán custom made by a German drummaker he met a drum festival in Ireland.

Tom Schultz has a passion for folk music. A member of the Central Missouri Celtic Arts Association, he has been playing folk music for more than a dozen years.

You can see Tom and other members of the CMCAA perform traditional Irish music Monday at Grill One-5, 15 S. Sixth St., Columbia.

What got you interested in Celtic music?

I’ve always been interested in folk music. I became seriously interested in Irish music while attending the University of Arkansas in the ‘70s. Traditionally, the music was played in people’s houses and was a way of keeping the culture alive and cementing a sense of community.

What instruments do you play?

I play the guitar, the mandolin, the bodhran (pronounced bowRAWN), which is a traditional drum, and I play the harp a very little bit. I guess around mid-Missouri, I’m probably best known as a singer of traditional songs.

How long have you been playing?

Nearly 40 years. I’ve been singing all my life, though.

What is your day job?

I am an academic librarian, by trade. I am the technical services librarian at William Woods University in Fulton, where I have been for the past seven years. I hold two master’s degrees, one from MU (Library Science) and one from KU (Germanic languages), so whoever wins, I’m happy!

What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?

I was a dwarf in a stage production of “The Hobbit” at the University of Arkansas. That’s pretty odd.

What’s the best part about performing Celtic music?

The people. It is honestly like a huge worldwide family. I have musician friends in Ireland, Scotland, the UK, Germany, Austria, Australia, Tasmania and Israel.

The truly amazing thing is that the “big stars” in traditional music are for the most part very friendly, accessible people, happy to share what they know and alive with a passion to keep the music going.

We keep in touch, and we network something fierce. If you’re visiting a town you’ve never been to, chances are the local musicians will know somebody you know, so it’s like meeting a distant cousin. And the tunes are a shared heritage.


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