Norman Nights
Hot blues for a summer night
By Cathy Swiney
Lake Norman Magazine
August 2004
Despite the name of the group — the Promise Breakers — band members remain committed to not breaking one important promise: You’ll enjoy listening to their rocking blues music.

The group has been around since 1985, seeing several changes in band names and members and even the essence of the music they play. Front man John Tatum, who plays lead guitar and provides vocals, is joined by Steve Hodge on bass and vocals, Bob Tarleton on drums and vocals, and Wade Long on saxophone. The band’s latest moniker, a play off the Christian crusading organization Promise Keepers, reflects a positive outcome in a traumatic time in Tatum’s life. He was in a serious motorcycle accident several years ago that left both of the longtime guitar player’s hands broken, in addition to other injuries. Doctors doubted he would play again. Tatum broke their promise and proved them wrong.

That’s good news for audiences, who can expect to hear lots of guitar-driven music in the shows. It’s one thing that hasn’t changed during the years as the band’s sound has gone from “blues blues” to a more soulful and upbeat blues. The band plays some original songs as well as familiar ones from the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughan, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Tommy Castro but they put their own spin on them, Tatum says.

“We’re pretty hot blues,” Tatum says, “not just a laid-back shuffle. We enjoy playing, and the crowd picks up that we’ve been doing it a while … and on the enjoyment we’re having.”

The band, based in Winston-Salem, has opened for well-known acts such as the Allman Brothers Band and Foghat. The foursome has two CDs and is working on a third. Tatum is writing songs he hopes will appeal to a more mainstream market rather than just college radio stations.

Enjoy the blues with the Promise Breakers at River City Café in Mooresville on Aug. 28. For more information on the band, call (336) 416-4479 or visit