The Conductor: Tom McHugh and his Mainstay


Tom McHugh took his time becoming the director of a non-profit music hall in Rock Hall. After more than 30 years as a leading academic and professor of education at Vassar and Washington College, he fulfilled a lifelong goal of building a second career in music, his first love. To that end, he created a venue that would bring to the Eastern Shore some of the best musicians in jazz, blues, folk and contemporary music performing today.

For decades, Tom has been a force in the region’s music scene, from helping to form the original Kent County Marching Band, encouraging Karen Somerville to perform Lady Sings the Blues, or arranging concerts for Sue Matthews in Ireland. He is indeed our great conductor.

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Letters to Editor

  1. Larry Schroth says:

    Tom McHugh and the Mainstay – New York, Philadelphia and D.C. quality music without the hassle of transportation and parking. What a deal! The performances are wonderfully diverse and passionate in this intimate setting. May your success continue.

  2. What a wonderful piece on “our” wonderful Tom

  3. Tom is golden — and he’s put Rock Hall on the music map in a big way. Many, many of the concerts at the Mainstay are truly world class; word has spread to Philadelphia, D.C., and beyond. What a wonderful venue Rock Hall has with the Mainstay. We love you, Tom!

  4. Well, generally, we got it right. A few minor examples of hyperbole, but you know me. But the interview, patched together from about 30 minutes of talk, does convey my joy in this enterprise called The Mainstay. Thanks CHESTERTOWN SPY.

  5. I’ve been lucky enough to see Tom play his Chesapeake tunes, strumming the banjo and playing the harmonica, aboard the skipjack Elsworth for a number of delighted children (and a few equally delighted adults, as well). Keep on rockin’ Tom!

  6. I just have to comment – my wife and I attended the Alison Brown Quartet’s performance at the Mainstay last Friday evening. It was our first trip to this venue and we loved it! We were lucky enough to score the couch seats and were treated to a wonderful performance in a very comfortable setting. Our sincere thanks and appreciation go to Mr. McHugh and the Mainstay. We’ll be back!

  7. Tom is truely a local treasure and we all are the richer for it. Thanks Tom

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