Tom Colontonio got his first big break in Atlantic City back in 2001. Since then, he has become a world-wide phenomenon, traveling and performing in over 20 countries, producing over 100 records and working with the biggest names in the producing industry. And now? He’s coming back, for an intimate one-night performance 10 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Martorano’s in Harrah’s Resort.
“Atlantic City holds a very special place for me,” Colontonio says. “The idea of this is to play for the people who were there in the beginning.”
It’s all part of a series Colontonio is working on called “For the Love of Music.”
“It’s the simple concept of a DJ playing music for the people who like their music,” Colontonio says. “You lose a connection playing for 10,000 people and when there are nine fences separating you from them.”
Colontonio got his start publicly performing as a DJ at Studio 6 in Atlantic City in ‘01. But first he put in years of grassroots marketing, creating a following for himself the old fashioned way — through hard work.(tncms-asset)5b6777b0-e3f3-11e6-8b63-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
“I started making a series of tapes called ‘Teatime for Tommy,’” Colontonio says. “I would do a tape a month, and I duplicated thousands of tapes. I would go to clubs and hand them to everybody.”
By 1998, Colontonio had graduated from tapes to CDs.
“I had invested thousands into this,” Colontonio explains. “The music, the CDs, the turntables … there wasn’t any free promotion then.”
By the time he secured that fortuitous first gig at Studio 6, he was able to bring along 200 fans — people who had received and liked his tapes and CDs.
Colontonio rose up through the ranks of DJs, becoming popular in Philadelphia. He could have coasted there. Instead, he had a kind of epiphany.
“I decided I was going to build a studio and make electronic music,” Colontonio says.
An accomplished guitarist, Colontonio didn’t let the fact that he didn’t yet know what he was doing stand in his way.
“I figured, if I can play Bach and Van Halen on the guitar, I can do this,” Colontonio laughs. “I bought a Mac and set it up in my house, and at that point I had no idea what I was doing.”
Obviously, he figured it out, because Colontonio spent the next few years becoming one of the biggest names in the trance music scene on an international scale, rubbing elbows with people who were both heroes and friends.
After 10 years of incessant international touring — he’s known to have gone to Ireland for the day before promptly returning back to the States — he’s returning to where it all began.(tncms-asset)a92de14e-e4ae-11e6-b3ed-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)
In addition to starting his own label, Hardwire Records, he’s interested in playing intimate shows and focusing on connecting with his audiences.
“I was a DJ first,” Colontonio says. “I’m coming back to my roots.”