Photo by Paul Maring
Tom Hall has continued to perform despite the injuries he sustained in a random attack on December 1.
St. Louis musician Tom Hall displayed a remarkably relaxed attitude in regards to the brutal attack that landed him in the hospital on Thursday, December 1. Of the five young men that randomly punched and kicked him to the ground in an alley near his south city home, he told RFT Music
, "I'm not angry at them."
“They’re directing their anger at the wrong place," he said in an interview the day after the attack. "They’re young. They want to feel power and impress their friends. That’s why they do it. It’s an indictment of our society, as far as I’m concerned."
Photos courtesy of Tom Hall
You wouldn't know it from that laid-back reaction, but Hall's injuries were severe. Loosened teeth, a broken nose and ongoing painful facial spasms around his battered eye brought substantial medical bills for the self-employed musician. Soon, a GoFundMe campaign
was set up to help defray the considerable medical bills for the dental work, MRIs and potential plastic surgery necessary to fix his broken nose.
Luckily, Hall has spent decades in the St. Louis area, making friends inside and outside of the music scene. Within two weeks the effort raised more than $47,000 — handily surpassing the campaign's $30,000 goal.
"I feel guilty. There's a lot of people in a lot worse shape than I am that could probably use money like that more than I could," Hall says. "On top of that it's very humbling — I want to add that too. It makes me emotional, but then I think about other people and it's like, wow. I mean, I want to thank everybody and everything, but I don't know what to do with it. Where to put it."
As it happens, Hall's daughter was the one who started the fundraiser — Hall didn't even know about it for the first two days the campaign was online.
"And then it just shot up," he says. "It was like watching a game show." Of the substantial sum, he says, "I got some serious thinking to do about all that."
And even as he is still in pain, Hall has continued to play music — he even showed up for his regular Friday night gig at Sqwires less than 24 hours after the attack. (“I’m glad I did that,” he said of the short set. “I had to get back on the horse.”) Last weekend he traveled to Kansas City for a performance as well.
This week, on Tuesday, Hall will perform at a shelter operated by Peter & Paul Community Services
, a group that provides housing and help for the homeless — especially those suffering with mental illness or HIV. The shelter location regularly serves 60 people each night, providing them with a hot meal and a warm place to sleep. Hall is a regular volunteer with the organization; this will be his 31st year performing for the group.
"You get in there and play, and you realize how rough some people really have it," he says. "I always feel good, when I walk out of there, that I can help somehow."
Continuing to perform regularly has helped Hall throughout his painful ordeal, he says. Reasoning that "they didn't touch my hands," he says he feels more determined than ever to perform.
"I'll tell you exactly why: Because there's no way I can thank everybody that has hoped for my recovery and has donated money, or has said, 'Can we bring soup by' or whatever — it's just thousands and thousands of people," Hall says. "And there's no way I can thank all of them. There's no way — I can't keep track of it.
"So I feel like I'm resolved to pay them back with the music. That's all I can do."
For more information on Peter & Paul Community Services, visit their official website. To donate to Tom Hall's GoFundMe campaign, go here.