Last Fair Deal continues to redraw the map of American roots music with fluid energy and creativity. Performing as a trio, guitarist Paul Howard, fiddler Tom Hagymasi and banjo/mandolinist Phil Zimmerman fan the flame that has kept this band relevant since the 70's. They're enjoyment of performing together is palpable and captivating!
Their live performances, with stellar vocals and unique acoustic synergy draw from an eclectic repertoire of old-time string-band, bluegrass, swing, and popular music. The band's shows feature originals from their current and previous three albums and they also put their own spin on tunes by John Hartford, Gillian Welch, Dan Hicks, Lennon/McCartney, John Hiatt, The Band and Bob Dylan.
Guitar, Vocals, Harmonica
Paul Howard is a Connecticut-born guitarist, singer and songwriter who has been working as a professional musician and teacher for all of his adult life. Paul operates Paul Howard’s Valley Music School in Avon, CT and was also a founding faculty member and author with the prestigious National Guitar Workshop. He has five nationally published guitar instruction books under his belt as well as instructional videos.
Paul's musical adventures were launched by the Beatles on Ed Sullivan in 1964. After a few years of high school rock & roll, the 70's found him discovering acoustic music via the music of Jonathan Edwards and Dan Hicks. This led to the pursuit of other acoustic musicians who played instruments other than guitar. Of course the journey brought him to bluegrass music and a fortuitous ad from Last Fair Deal seeking a lead singer and guitar player.
Paul joined Last Fair Deal in 1975 and solidified the progressive direction the band was beginning to take by infusing his interest in swing and roots/rock into the country and bluegrass style the band had been perfecting. He also carried the torch during the brief time off that Phil and then Tom took from the band in the early 80's. During the band's hiatus, which began in 1992, he also continued to play with Tom and bass player Jim Stevens in The Paul Howard Group.
During the 90's Paul spent most of his performing time working with Grammy-winning resophonic guitarist Stacy Phillips. Paul and Stacy have toured in Europe, the west coast of the U.S. and have recorded two CDs together.
Paul has contributed many of the original songs that the group performs, does a good share of the lead singing and has been known to occasionally strap on the harmonica rack.
"Paul Howard's playing is versatile, tasteful and thoroughly listenable."
- Bluegrass Unlimited
Fiddle, Accordion, Bouzouki, Vocals
Connecticut native Tom Hagymasi is a multi-instrumentalist and singer songwriter whose musical journey includes old timey, jug band, swing, folk, bluegrass, country and rock genres. In a career spanning over fifty years he has performed at major festivals including the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival, the Greyfox Bluegrass Festival and the International Festival of Arts and Ideas; world class venues such as the Ives Center for the Performing Arts, the Levitt Pavilion and Infinity Music Hall; and iconic folk clubs including the Gaslight and the Bitter End. His recording career began in 1969 with the infamous Golden Nectar Band. Since then he has done numerous studio sessions, most recently with the Kenn Morr Band with whom he currently tours.
Mandolin, Banjo, Vocals
Phil Zimmerman has been a performing musician since high school. Born in Indiana, he grew up in Nebraska and Illinois listening to the WSM Farm Show as a toddler; the WLS Barn Dance in elementary school; and the late-night clear-channel beacons of hillbilly music, KXEL, WWVA and WCKY in high school. Television cowboys Uncle Tom Chase in Omaha, and singer/songwriter Bob Atcher in Chicago, as well as the “singing cowboy” movies of Gene Autry and Roy Rogers all contributed to his lifelong dedication to picking and singing.
In high school he learned to play guitar and banjo, and attended concert performances of Peggy, Pete, and Mike Seeger, Doc Watson, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, The New Lost City Ramblers, and other pivotal performers of the folk revival. He played solo coffeehouse gigs in college to earn spending money and work on his instrumental and vocal chops.
Phil is a founding member of Last Fair Deal, Connecticut’s ground-breaking eclectic string band. For ten years, Phil played mandolin and sang lead with Connecticut’s premier traditional Bluegrass band, Traver Hollow. He also performs Old-Time music in Heroes of Tradition, and straight-ahead Bluegrass with Stacy Phillips and His Bluegrass Characters. Phil is President and Music Director of both Guitar & Mandolin Camp North and Banjo Camp North, and has taught mandolin and banjo workshops at the Joe Val Festival every year since 2006.