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Tom Knight is a musician, puppeteer and videographer based in Northampton, MA.
He grew up in Cupertino, California (home of Apple Computers), and had an early love of music, playing violin and trombone in school. He went to college at UC Santa Cruz, majoring in philosophy, and learned to play the mountain dulcimer while taking breaks from studying. The dulcimer made it easy to create simple songs, and that was the beginning of his songwriting career.
After graduating from college in 1985, he migrated east, looking for a colder place where the leaves changed color in the Fall. He found a good place to pursue creativity in Ithaca, NY.
One of his first jobs was working with pre-schoolers as an assistant teacher at the Ithaca Montessori School. One of the teachers there (Monica MacNamee) liked how he entertained the kids in class on his dulcimer, so she invited him to join her puppet troupe - Punchinella Puppeteers. There Knight met Elizabeth McMahon, (AKA Mrs. McPuppet) and when the Punchinella Troupe split up, the two of them formed their own group - The Peanut Butter and Jelly Puppeteers. Over 9 years, they developed the popular recipe for their shows which included short puppet skits, original songs, and audience participation. Between 1989 and 1998, Tom and Elizabeth recorded 6 albums separately, and performed regularly in schools, libraries, festivals, pre-schools throughout upstate NY and beyond.
In 1995, after 3 recordings of music for families, Knight created a CD of music oriented towards grown-ups, called Crazy Little Dream. He then formed Tom Knight & the Blue Moon in order to perform some of the songs live, as well as to play for swing dances.
In 1998, McMahon decided to devote her full time to her Mrs. McPuppet shows. This gave Knight an opportunity to develop a solo puppet show - Tom Knight Puppets. At first, the show was mostly songs with guitar (and 2 short puppet skits), but over time, more puppet routines were added, to become a the musical puppet show that he performs today.
In 2009, after almost 25 years in Ithaca, Knight was well established as a puppeteer and children’s musician in Ithaca, but was feeling creatively stagnant. He decided a change of location would “shake things up,” so he packed up and moved to Northampton, MA. Soon after arriving, he teamed up with puppeteer Amy Dawn Kotel to create the Otter and Moo Puppet Theatre, and later collaborated with musicians Christine Olson, Meg Kelsey Wright and Russ Neiman in The Four Story Players.
After those collaborations ended, Knight teamed up with Burchie Green to help her record a CD “Cool Cat Cafe.” Green and Knight decided to continue playing music together after the release of the CD, and now perform in schools, libraries, coffeehouses, and for wedding receptions.
Knight’s interest in video production began in Ithaca when he teamed up with PhotoSynthesis Productions to produce a music video of “The Garbage Monster” in 2008. In the process, he learned about all aspects of video production by watching the professionals work. In order to save some money, he decided to do the preliminary edit himself. He taught himself to use Final Cut Pro, and also animated the opening titles in Adobe Flash. PhotoSynthesis did the final edit, but by then, Knight’s love of video production had begun.
In 2009, Knight bought an inexpensive camcorder to help document puppet shows, and then began to create videos for other musicians and family members. In 2011, Knight decided to upgrade the video production part of his business, and purchased high quality cameras and lights, in order to be able to create professional quality videos.
In 2015, Knight began another collaboration - this time with musician Felicia Sloin. Sloin wrote songs with Jewish themes, and Knight helped produce the songs and create videos to go with them. Their first effort (“Vashti’s Song - A Purim Parody of All About that Bass”) got over 7000 views in about 10 days. Buoyed by it’s success, Sloin and Knight decided to create new videos every month and started a Patreon.com page to help fund the videos.
Knight enjoys the variety of his creative life, since any given day might include making a puppet, editing video, or producing a song.