Tom Danforth, a.k.a. Tom “Ball” has been performing in Rangeley longer than I had realized, but now that I think about it, I’m not surprised.

A seasoned and natural performer he is comfortable on any stage, at any venue, and with any group of people.

If you’ve been coming to Rangeley for a while, I’m thinking you’re already a fan, but like me, it could be in more ways than one.

Okay, so let’s start with one.


For 32 years Danforth worked either as a coach or the athletic director at Rangeley Lakes Regional School (RLRS). If you were one of his students in the gymnasium, you might think of him in this way.

Years later, after retirement, Danforth would substitute occasionally. He laughed at the recollection of a time when upon entering a young girl exclaimed ‘Oh, we’re having Tom Ball today for gym!’ Apparently, children had begun to know him by his stage name, “Tom Ball”.


‘Nowadays all the kids call me Tom Ball, they don’t call me coach anymore”.

On second thought, he realized there are still those who call him coach, but it probably depends on your age.

“I still do have kids, well I call them kids, but they’re adults that I had in school that still call me coach. Even Seth Wescott, when I see him, he calls me coach. You know, here’s a guy that’s won two gold medals, you know, calling me the coach. It really is awesome you know.”

(Yes, world famous Olympic winner snowboarding champ Seth Wescott went to RLRS briefly in the 80’s)

Just think of the hundreds of students that were under Danforth’s kind influence.

Even after retirement, Danforth is an enthusiastic fan of local sports. This brings us to number two.



You might have heard him on our local FM radio station WRGY 90.5 where he and his friend Rod Smith host a radio show called the Sports Desk.

The radio show started with first recordings, then evolved into live coverage where listeners could enjoy great play-by-play descriptions of for example, a high school basketball game.

With the Covid pandemic, the show had to be modified. The duo switched to doing interviews with local sports personalities such as “Hawk” (Jeff Hawksley) , Shawn Smith, Brittany DiPompo, Craig Sargent, and even a two part interview with members of the Morton family (specifically Joey, Judy and Scott).

Each interview was interesting in a different way. “We interviewed Al Philbrick. He was a great interviewee. Al grew up in Rangeley, in the 30’s. We not only got to hear about sports in Rangeley but also how life was in Rangeley at that time with the grand hotels.”

Interested? Check the latest WRGY schedule, and tune in.

From radio leads to music. If you love music, perhaps you even love to sing. If so, why not join Tom Ball during karaoke night at Sarge’s.


Tom Ball, as HE-VA (as opposed to DIVA) performing at a Diva Concert as John Lennon


So how does it work? “If no one else is signed up I’ll get up and sing. I usually get it going. I’m usually the first one that gets up and then people start signing up. It’s a lot of fun. I mean it gives a lot of people a chance to get up there and you know, do their thing and you know, their chance to be rock star or a country western star. We have quite a few people that come down there on a regular basis. We really have some great talent that comes and shows up for karaoke.” He proceeded to list off some of the local Divas. I can’t list them all because then I would miss one, and well, you know how divas are…

(And, if you don’t, well, you NEED to go buy your ticket to the Summer Diva Concert.)

So, instead, I’m going to move on, or rather back, to the beginning of his passion for music.


“Oh my. It’s the typical story. You know, I grew up in the age of the Beatles. I was 10 years old in 1963 and everybody wanted to be a Beatle and have the girls chase you around and stuff. That’s really where my interest started was with the Beatles, and it just went from there.

“I grew up in Bath. Bath was quite a hotbed of garage bands. Everybody had a band. Everybody went off and bought drums or a guitar. You can easily get into a band if you had a drum set. That’s what I did first. I played drums.”

He had some bands when he was in junior high school but then in high school he got more into sports and as we all know, it’s hard to balance the two.


“I’d jam and stuff a little bit with guys, but I never really joined a band in high school because I had to just concentrate on sports. It was really hard to do both.

It really wasn’t until after I graduated from high school. I’d start playing guitar sitting around the house with my brother. My brother was older than I was. He’d play guitar and I had a drum, and we’d sit around and jam out when we were younger.

It wasn’t really until I moved to Rangeley that I started getting back into it. My brother and I and this other guy Tim Cousins from South Paris, we started a band called Buried Alive. That would have been in 1978-79. And then I met this guy Frank Pomerleau who went by the name Frank “Ball”. And that’s where the Ball Brothers really started. Everybody in the band had the name Ball.” They traveled all around New Hampshire in places like the Old Mill, as well as different venues in Maine.

Then, in early 90’s, he played with George Buck, Ross Thompson, Mike Blythe, Terry Tesseo.

“We played all over the place.” (Rangeley Inn, People’s Choice, Mike’s Pub & Grub)

“It just evolved into a lot of different things. I’ve just tried to stay busy with it. Just something to do. It’s my passion. I really enjoy doing, playing music and singing. And just trying to make people happy. I figure if you make happy, If people are happy and they have a good time, they’ll come back. It’s really been quite an adventure so far. You know, I’ve been playing in the same town since 1978 until right now. Like a lot of people say, ‘I’m sort of going to try to ride this horse till it drops.” He laughed. “I mean that in a good way. I’m not getting any younger. I’m 68. I still think young, but my body doesn’t always agree. I started playing here when I was 25, so it’s been quite a long time.”


“You know, you can’t stop. If you stop, you know, if you stop, you stop. You just got to keep going. You just got to keep moving. You don’t keep moving, you’re done.”

Over the years he has enjoyed a significant amount of great, fun and memorable events.

“Probably the most memorable thing was being able to open up for Foreigner at the first concert they had up at Saddleback and also being able to also open up for the Gregg Allman concert. That’s probably one of the best highlights.

“But probably the major highlight really, I mean thinking about it right now, was …” He started telling me about the Special Olympics events held at Sugarloaf.

“This guy Steve Pierce approached us to do it. He says to me, you know ‘Tom, I’m going to guarantee this is going to be some of the best fun you’ll ever have playing’, and I’m going, ‘Yea, okay.’, and… it was like being a Beatle. The kids over there were just so into it and as the years went by playing over there, I kept seeing the same kids over and over again and they knew who I was, and I knew who they were, and it was just probably the best experience that I ever had playing in a band was to be able to do that. I just can’t explain just how awesome those kids were and how good the people who run the Special Olympics are and how much the kids really got into it.”

“That was without a doubt …” “It’s just a great party.” “The kids and just awesome, awesome people.”


Tom Ball with some fans and friends at Special Olympics at one of the many Sugarloaf events.

“That probably is the highlight of my musical career- I guess if you could call it that, my musical experience was to be able to go share that with those kids and just have that one night a year with those kids. I think we did it for like 10 years.”

So if you’re not already a fan, hopefully you will be become one this summer.

You can catch him and his right hand, playing bass for around 20 years Billy Balding, along with other great local musical talents like guitarist Mike Blythe and drummer Scott Ivers. They go by THE BALL BROTHERS and I myself enjoyed a great night of dancing while they played at The SHED somewhat recently.

Together with the set up and sometimes back up singing help of Justin Orazi and sometimes musical drop ins, they play regularly at the Shed.

Performing with the rest of the Ball Brothers at the Shed

In addition they sometimes play at the Corner Bar, private parties and area events like the RFA Outdoor Concert Series, or Oquossoc Day to name a few. Just remember to put on your dancing shoes.

From what I’ve witnessed, he’s a very generous and happy guy, humble and really grateful for so many aspects of his life; his children, his wife of almost 49 years Karen, living in this beautiful area, and of course music.


“I don’t go on trips. I don’t go on vacations. I figure I live here in Rangeley, I don’t need to go on vacation. Vacation is right here.”

He’s also very humble and was surprised I even wanted to interview him.

“I’m really quite flattered. I just look at myself as just a regular person that loves music. You know, everybody has to have their passion and that’s mine and I’m just glad I started to do it when I was young and I had the opportunity to have instruments in the house, guitars and drums and stuff to be able to play. It’s just something I do and I’m glad I did it. I think it’s something every kid should do. Get into music. Learn how to play something. I mean even if you don’t play in a band or something you can still play around the campfire or serenade your girlfriend.”

Gee, no wonder he’s going on 49 years of marriage. How romantic!

I asked him if he plays on his down time and sure enough he does. He said he always enjoys learning a new song. “I always have a six string within arms reach.”

Tom Ball standing in front of the music notes that were on the foundation of the old Copper Kettle.

So, to sum up and in case you weren’t absolutely sure, I am a big fan. I’m glad I was able to do an interview with him. He told me some interesting information about the old Copper Kettle in Rangeley where they used have the classic milkshakes, sodas and juke box and the old Poacher’s Paradise in Madrid/Phillips where you had to take your fights outside or be banned for a year at a great loss to your social life.

As I was writing this I realized most of the things he has done and continues to do whether it be coaching, hosting or performing, involve an audience of people listening, watching, dancing, and or learning, but more importantly, having a great time.

From one of your many fans, Thank you and Woo Hoo, Yay, Encore!

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