Note that the annual St Patrick’s day luncheon and concert at Bingeman’s, Kitchener has been CANCELLED due to the Covid 19 threat. What a drag. What a killer band that was ready to play – Eugene Rae, Nonie Thompson backed by Anne Lederman, violin, piper Paul Gibbin and Tom Leighton.

Meanwhile, Tom and Rick Bauer will celebrate the big night at the Piper’s Arms, Whitby starting at 6:00     Details on the dates page.

Check out this Sampler of Tom’s CD “Leighton Life”. Selected excerpts with wonderful visuals from artist Graham Metson, who did the cover art for both of Tom’s solo CDs.

Meanwhile, Tom and Rick Bauer will celebrate the big night at the Piper’s Arms, Whitby starting at 6:00     Details on the dates page.


Dec 6 – Tom has just completed the 25th Riverdale Share Concert at the Danforth Music Hall. Tom, Sue Baker, Randi Fratkin, and Steve Briggs put together an amazing line up of talent and Tom provided arrangements for an amazing 13 pc band. It started with a congrats video from the PM and had such soloists as Murray McLaughlin, Micah Barnes, John and Mia Sheard, Julian Taylor, Kim Stockwell, Washboard Hank, Teresa Nova and David Gayle & Randy Vancourt.

Check out the Wexford Gleeks performance as part of CBC Radio’s Sounds of the Season.

In Nov Tom got to be part of the house band for yet another of Paul Mills “Stan Rogers Tribute” which was 2 sold out shows at Hugh’s Room Live. Soloist this year were Doug McArthur, Laura Smith, Bill Craig, Trevor Mills, Beth and Ariel Rogers. Brilliant!

July has been off to a great start with concerts with musicians like Ian Bell, Jeanette Arsenault, Marie Lynn Hammond, Conrad Kipping and Anne Lederman. Also Tom was part of the huge cast  for the Wexford based True North Mix Tape Variety show at the Toronto Fringe Fest. It was very well recieved. The Wexford Team keep hitting it out of the part.

Also Tom and Rick Bauer continue to host Celtic Sundays at Arthur’s Pub, Best Western Hotel, Cobourg. For details see the dates page.

June will be a fun month musically for Tom. He gets to play with a number of different people including Conrad Kipping, Ian Bell, Kim Doolittle and her amazing band, and long time pal Rick Bauer. All the public dates are listed on this site.

Tom with Rick Bauer:

Tom with long time partner Conrad Kipping:

Kim Doolittle 

with Ian Bell 

May had some musical hightlights that included being part of Rob Young‘s 5th recording of his own wonderful songs. What a band that producer Paul Mills put together – Steve Briggs, Al Cross, Dennis Pendrith, and Burke Carroll. The Toronto CD release is Sept 24 at

Hugh’s Room LIVE!

Another May highlight was being part of the house band for World Fiddle Day #5Anne Lederman and her team did a wonderful job organizing this celebration of fiddle and how unique it sounds as each culture adapts their style to it.

May started out with Tom being involved in Wexford School for the Arts production of West Side Story – full live band and a cast of 150! The street fight scenes looked like the D Day Landing! I great cast and team. He considers himself so lucky to still be involved with it.

Last March Tom got to play yet again with Eugene Rae and Nonie Thompson as part of their show “The Real St. Patrick“. Great musicians and a fun repertoire. Details on the dates page.


Ian Bell and Tom prepare for their WW1 show. It is a revue of music from that period with a Canadian perspective. Music both from the Home Front and the Trenches with some period instruments and intros as only Ian can tell them.





Here are 2 gigs with Eugene Rae and Nonie Crete titled “The Real St. Patrick”. Details are on the gigs page.


I am involved in the Toronto Fringe Festival, or my music is.

My Wife, Sandra Lean Leighton, is starring in this one woman show she has written about being a veternary technition. Check the details on the dates page and come to the Fringe.

Starring Sandra Lean Leighton
Starring Sandra Lean Leighton

Also Wexford School for the Arts is involved in the Fringe with a remounting of the original musical “Summerland”. Wexford has moved it’s stage, musicians and large cast down from Scarborough to Harbord Collegiate for it’s run. New music, lots of re-writes and great collaborations. It will easily be the largest show at the Fringe.

Tom gets dressed up to play an English Country Dance with fiddler Steve Fuller and caller Dale Hyde in Hamilton. EVERYone was dressed up and it was a lot of fun.


Fort York. Anne Lederman hosts World Fiddle Day with tunes from around the world. The room was packed with over 60 fiddlers…. and 1 accordion. Hmmmm.


Here is Tom with the Wexford School for the Arts Stage Band. I had a lot of fun this past semester. They backed the Music Theatre Company for both the Variety Show and for Joseph & the Amazing Tech. Dreamcoat – including all original orchestrations.

Wex Stageband 2015


Mon, Sept 16th – Back in Toronto. It’s been a summer with a wonderful balance of some interesting gigs with several different musicians and the down time between at our cottage. I made a promis to myself to take advantage of every opportunity to get out on the windsurfer ….. and really got lots of time on the water!

This Sept 20 ’13 the Wexford Gleeks  – where Tom teaches – get to be on stage at the Air Canada Centre backing up astrosaut Chris Hadfield and the Bare Naked Ladies. They also performed on the original recording of “Is Somebody Singing?” written by Chris and Ed Robertson. Chris recorded his part while in the space station!! Perhaps a space first! Tom did the vocal arrangement and the project was over seen by the CBC and producer Paul Mills.


Over last I was involved with 2 small theatre shows in Prince Edward County. One was a revue of “County Songs” most of which have been performed in earlier shows, one the other was based on Rum Running Stories from that area. Long time County writer Suzanne Pasternak was behind the helm.

Here is the cast of Rum Runners ’13 (Jenica Hammett, Suzanne Pasternak, Rick Zimmerman, Mark Despault and Tom Leighton.

Back in the end of June Conrad and I played at a mostly blue grass style weekend near Belleville called the “Just Past the Pines Jamboree”. It was fun to be involved there and we heard some 1st class music as well.

Tom & Conrad at the "Just Past the Pines Jamboree"

Tom teamed up with Rick Bauer to do Canada Day duties at the Waring House, July ’13. They did a “Cross Country Cavalcade” with gave songs and tunes from Sea to Sea to Sea. As always, Waring House did it up right with a terrific fireworks display.

While down in the Maritimes Tom got to  sit in with the PEI Summer Revue which was a hit show that featured Mark Haines teammed up with Island funnyman Partick Ledwell. It was a terrific show and really brought out the best of both talents. I sure enjoyed myself.


Wed July 31 – I’m getting ready for another Blue Skies Weekend. I’m doing as much praying for strength and practicing!!! I’ve been there many times and it’s always stimulating.

Aug 10 should be a blast. I get to play with Ian Bell, Anne Lederman, Jeff Bird and who ever else Ian has cooked up for this day of music.

May 12 From the Wellington Times Paper, Apr 12/’13 following our performance at the Fiddle Stomp Dance in Hillier, PEC.

Kitchen Musicians

Leighton and Kipping lead stomping good time




















Tom Leighton and Conrad Kippling used humor, audience participation and good music to entertain the crowd at the Happy Feet head for Hillier! event at Hillier’s town hall on Saturday. The fiddle stomp kitchen dance brought members of the community together, some new or visiting and others who’ve been here all their lives. Photo by Mihal Zada

Mar 25th I was able to perform at the Marine Museum, Port Dover last week. It’s the perfect place to be IF you HAD to be locked in a room for 24 hrs. Curator and faboulis musician Ian Bells has really made this place an essential part of the community. The reason the I was there was to play piano for a full length silent movie called “Steamboat Bill Jr.” staring Buster Keaton. It was really fun. I used lots of more “modern” themes that people would recognize to set up different scenes but played them in the older style. That approach gave more laughs to the audience. …. AND I had a chance to use my arm suspenders once again.

Here is Tom “the piana player” after he supplied all the music to a Silent Movie.

Feb 5th Here is some exciting news. Wexford School for the Arts vocal group “the Wexford Gleeks” were invited to add the choral parts to a song that was co-written by the Space Station Commander Chris Hadfield and Bare Naked Ladies frontman Ed Robertson. Chris recorded his part from UP IN ORBIT! Back on earth the “Ladies” and the Gleeks did their parts together at the main CBC studio – where it was recorded and filmed, all under the watchful ears of award winning producer Paul Mills. The vocal arrangement was done by Tom.

Here is a review of the performance that Mark and I gave for the Cuckoo’s Nest Folk Society at Chauser’s Pub, London on Sunday Jan 27 /’13.  The place was packed and everyone seemed to have a great time  – us included!

“Haines & Leighton delight Cuckoo’s Nest audience”

Written by Bob Cunningham

Great night at the Cuckoo’s Nest on Sunday with Mark Haines and Tom Leighton! Place was packed with familiar faces and new. Lady beside me came specially from Burlington. Although I’ve often seen Tom accompanying others, somehow I’d managed to miss the duo playing together – my loss!

Mark, who lives in P.E.I., and Tom, in Toronto, have been playing music together for around twenty five years. As members of The Zippers way back, they were often at London’s Fryfogle’s Tavern and its metamorphosis, Leadbelly’s, where Brian Mortimer convinced them that the two of them could go it alone. They told a lovely story about their first album release party where no sales were happening. Brian announced that a free shot of Jack Daniels went with every purchase – sales were brisk!!  I’m sure there’s a great lesson there for all us recording star wannabes, but, damn, even a beer destroys the best part of $10 these day. But I digress…

Their promo on the Nest’s poster was basically a one-liner with things like “rooted in tradition”; “engaging humour”; and “rambled the back roads of Ontario, Maritimes, Britain and New York.” The songs and tunes they played and the stories they told certainly lived up to these claims. They did covers such as Dylan’s When the Ship Comes In and Doug McArthur’s Boots and Saddles. Traditional tunes included The Immigrant and a song telling of an Irish family’s hopes and ultimate destruction by cruelly avaricious absentee landlords and their rent collectors. Mark’s voice has a sort of smoky quality that wrapped itself around the audience making this ballad all the more poignant.

Their original compositions gave us lovely tunes and wonderful lyrics while all their arrangements were fresh, engaging and often totally unexpected. Tom played the bodhran then set it down and picked up the accordion – but the drum kept playing!! He’d very smoothly just recorded several bars of it in a “loop” and the audience loved it. Incidentally these drums have a goat skin head and the song was all about a young goat aspiring to be …a bodhran!!! Oh yes and we all had to practice pronouncing “BOW- RON”  not “BOD- RAN” so we could sing the refrain. So now you know too!

The evening was a delight and over too soon. They are both amazing musicians, singers and writers. They are also very funny, regaling the audience with jokes, stories and outrageously camp routines. Their version of a Brother Love’s type travellin’ salvation meeting assuring us of redemption if only we’d buy a CD – or six depending on the severity of our sins!! – and their Haaaaaaaappy Biiiirrrrthday where the recipient had to stand on a chair.

Oh, you had to be there! So be sure you are the next time they’re in town.
I will be.

Go to for more info.

Bob Cunningham, originally from England, has been involved in the Canadian folk music scene since the early 60’s as performer, guitar teacher and music school owner. His recordings with various groups have been played on CBC and as far away as Australia. Bob has performed coast to coast from coffee house to festival stage, schools to retirement homes – and more pubs than is decent! London has been home for many years where he sings with his newest group, Scallywag.

Jan 5th/ ’13 Mark Haines is coming up to Southern Ontario for a few selected dates. It’s been quite awhile since he has performed in Ontario so he and Tom will have a LOT of music to catch up on. Both have been very busy performing with others so it won’t be a question of being rusty, but more like how to fit in all the material that they like to play together. It will also be a blend of their concert material (especially at the Cuckoo’s Nest Folk Society) and more of their unique covers of “bar” material. It will be wonderful to see old – AND new – friends.




























Meanwhile a few highlights for Tom have been the continued chance to perform with some stellar musicians, especially Conrad Kipping. With all the instruments they bring out to gigs they always push each other further into the music.
Once again Tom was the Music Director of the Riverdale Share Concert which is a Christmas Charity show that is performed at the Danforth Music Hall. MOST of the headliners and excellent 12 pc houseband are from the area and all the money raised stays in Riverdale. It’s a perfect place for Tom’s arranging skills, complete with horns and strings.
The Wexford Gleeks had the high complement of performing as part of CBC’s Sound of the Season fundraiser. They are an amazing group and part of Wexford School for the Arts Music Theatre Program. Tom continues to teach there part of each year and help provide vocal arrangements.
Another highlight has been the thrill of being called by award winning producer Paul Mills (who co-produced Tom’s “Leighton Tendencys”) to record on several of Paul’s projects at the Millstream.

Cheers, TOM

Sept ’12
Whew! the summer just flew by. It had some musical high points but also 2 visits to N.B. for “family business”.
Tom got to be part of some music festivals including Mariposa as part of Muddy York. This is the beefed up duo of Anne Lederman and Ian Bell. They specialized in music of early Ontario so were in demand in a year that celebrated the War of 1812. Never to settle with straight tradition they added other musicians including Pat O’Gorman on various pipes and whistles plus steel pans, karnetic violin, Tom on the electric keys and Jacko Backo on djembe and kalimba.
Once again Tom was invited back to Blue Skies and Summerfolk to lead the community choir (open to anyone who wanted to sing). The big challenge is never knowing how many singers and their abilities. Arrangements are prepared, but Tom has to be ready to make changes at any time during their rehearsals. At Blue Skies Tom had access to some wind players so scored 2 pieces for oboe, bassoon, clarinet, whistle and Saskia Tomkins on violin.
There also were a number of private gigs, mostly weddings and mostly with long time partner Conrad Kipping.

Meanwhile Mark Haines spent the entire summer in Charlottetown doing a stage revue with other Island musicians called “Come All Ye”. It was a hit with EVERY show filled to capacity! Well done Mark.
He remains on Island and is just starting his private teaching session.

June 25/12
Both Conrad and I performed at the Cobourg Highland Games this past weekend. We have quite a bit of Scottish material in our repetoire and actually had material left over after playing in the Pub Tent. I hope that the entire weekend was successful for the organizers. It was sure fun for us.
Next night we were back to Waring House. Here they were celebrating Jean Baptiste Eve and once again we were able to play some Quebecois style fiddle tunes. (no clogging feet …. they have a carpeted floor.)
May 30/’12
What a month. I’ve been able to play with Mark Haines, Conrad Kipping, and several fiddle functions with Anne Lederman PLUS our BIG production of HAIRSPRAY at Wexford. This year I was asked to help man the soundboard rather than be up in the loft with the band. That means that I was able so see my 1st Wexford production live. It was truly mind blowing. The cast were as good as we’ve every had – as were the band. I’m still up in the air about it!!

Hi there –
It’s been a very busy time these past few months. As most of you know, this is my teaching season = where I get to work at Wexford School for the Arts in Scarborough – as part of the music theatre team. It’s a dream job – the staff are amazing and the kids audition to get into the program. This week we start our 3rd production of the semester (that’s right – we start off with a big variety show, do the national show choir competition and then the musical. This year it is Hairspray – cast of 150 including our own stageband and original orchestrations by myself and Bob Johnston.
In addition to school I’ve been gigging quite a lot. Mostly with long time partner Conrad Kipping but also with VERY long time partner Mark Haines, Anne Lederman and recently did a gig where Conrad and I teamed up with Bill Candy and harmonica whiz Rolly Platt. It was quite an unusual combination of instruments, especially with Rolly and I both with handfuls of metal reeds and Bill and Conrad with the guitars, mandolin and other strings.
This Sunday I will be at the Galway Arms with Brian McIntyre and Ron McQuen. They have a fun pub repetoire, but what is always exciting is that Brian’s Dad “Sandy” will be coming out to join us on the fiddle. Any time to hear Sandy play is a special treat.
All the best, I do hope to see you out when I play,