Tom Becker has a twinkle in his eye and a lilt in his voice as he talks about the things that are the central activities of his life: playing music; cooking and catering; encouraging a greater sense of community by creating fun “happenings;" and, of course, spending time with his family.
Lots of people in Evergreen have known Tom for years and identify with him for his singing and the guitar playing, song writing and being head of the band "Tanglewood." His band has performed around Evergreen and Conifer, the Denver metro area and southern Colorado since 1977.
Strumming a guitar comes as naturally to Tom as joking and chatting; he does all three with an easy style and a cozy manner. Even when he is not doing a paid performance (which of course he enjoys the best), it is totally typical of Tom to start picking strings at a Rotary gathering, a picnic or a get-together with friends. Before you know it, a couple of folks will be humming along and a few more will start making requests for the “oldies but goodies” that Tom knows well and enjoys playing. Tom incorporates his love of music in both his business and personal life.
Tom and his wife, Joyce, have lived in the Mountain Community for much of their married life. They started out in Evergreen and then moved to Conifer for 19 years before moving back to Evergreen about five years ago. During those 19 years, Tom was running a thriving production company that involved traveling all over the United States staging music gigs, home shows, recreational shows, and community events and festivals. It was an exciting, heady experience but Tom was often away from home. Despite his heavy travel schedule, he was involved in community theater, at the Shadow Mountain Theater Company which morphed into Stage Door. His involvement started as a way for his son, Justin, to be involved; but Tom soon found himself on the Board of Directors. Family activities for Joyce, Justin and Tom centered around this community theater group for several years.
Tom has always been good at cooking and organizing events involving food. For several years he was the person in charge of cooking the corned beef for the traditional St. Patrick’s Day Fund-Raiser Dinner for Conifer Rotary. All the Rotarians would stand around (even though they had other duties) waiting for orders from him and taking sneaky, forbidden tastes of the delicious corned beef over which Tom held court. Tom is funny, witty, entertaining, comfy and teddy-bearish; and people always gravitate toward him. After a hiatus of several years, The Conifer Rotary reinstated its St. Patrick’s Day Dinner tradition last year; and there was Tom back in charge of the most important, revered event, slow cooking the corned beef.
Tom always had a desire to have his own restaurant and in his mid-50s took the plunge and sent himself to cooking school. He then opened his restaurant, Tanglewoods, in North Evergreen. (He liked the name but also wanted to keep it for his band, so he just added an “S” for the restaurant name.) His restaurant offered excellent and intriguing cuisine accompanied by fine wines, with a cozy, fun, neighborhood-type bar attached to the restaurant. The bar was often referred to as the “Cheers of Evergreen.” Everyone in his family was involved. Tom was the overseer and executive chef; Justin was the maitre-d'; and Joyce did the bookkeeping and created the trendy and stylish décor. The food was good, the people frequenting the bar were friendly and familiar faces, and Tom and his band often played music until late into the night – late at least by Evergreen standards!
After closing the restaurant in 2008 (it became hard to be successful at an upscale restaurant in a small town as the recession took hold), Tom spent two years as the chef at Elk Run. He also got involved in helping to organize a number of noteworthy community events including the Conifer Music Festival and the American Workers Concert Series at the Evergreen Elks Lodge which was a fund raising event for Evergreen Christian Outreach (EChO) and other non-profits in the area.
Tom loves to be involved with other community organizers in projects that are inherently enjoyable activities that create a greater sense of collaboration and community, and almost always involve music. Just this past holiday season, he and several other musicians created a Christmas CD to benefit Seniors' Resource Center where his wife, Joyce, is on staff and manages the home health care program. He had an active role in the kickoff party for the release of the CD, a fundraiser for the SRC that included music and dinner.
Tom is really excited about the new community-wide event that he is chairing, sponsored by Conifer Rotary. It is the Kansas City Barbeque Challenge to be held at Meyer Ranch in August, 2013. It will include great food, music and good down-home family fun, hopefully helping the club fund its good causes. He's already assembled a devoted crew of volunteers who are diligently meeting weekly to organize and prepare for this innovative summer festival in our mountain community.
Tom is equally enthusiastic about his new special events and catering business called (surprise) Tanglewoods (www.tanglewoodsevents.com) that has been expanding and evolving over the last couple of years. He specializes in a more personal touch with his catering, which often includes using the kitchen of the hosts to reduce their costs considerably and provides an individualized approach to the menu and the event.
He does bar mitzvahs, holiday parties, graduations, dinners and breakfasts with individually ordered omelets, backyard weddings, organizational retreats and gatherings, retirements, and even celebrations of life. He feels it is a perfect business for him because he gets to cook and cater and collaborate while providing a customized event for folks who want something special for an important event but want to do it in an affordable manner. Who knows, he might even include an impromptu musical performance in the mix!