A native of the farming and coal mining country of western Kentucky, Alan W. Tompkins grew up steeped in the sounds of classic country, gospel, and bluegrass music. Like many others, he first sang in the country church he attended as a child. His mother, an accomplished singer, piano player, and piano teacher, encouraged him to play piano by giving him lessons for a few years. But as soon as he got his hands on an old Kalamazoo electric bass, the piano lessons were over!
Alan played and sang with several bands, and was the bassist and a singer in the worship band at Christian Assembly Church in his home town of Madisonville, Kentucky. There he learned from many talented musicians who had played and recorded professionally (or later would).
Alan moved to Dallas in 1983, where he would earn MBA and law degrees at SMU. His career kept him busy for the next two decades, but the musical fire never burned out. After befriending Texas country artist Deryl Dodd, Alan’s desire to play live music again roared to life. His love of bluegrass, the music of his home state, motivated him to learn banjo, upright bass, and other instruments used in traditional bluegrass.
Alan has had the privilege of sharing the stage with many talented musicians and singers, including GRAMMY® winner Rusty Goodman of the Happy Goodman Family, ACM New Male Vocalist Nominee Deryl Dodd, National Heritage Fellow (and Texas fiddle legend) Jim “Texas Shorty” Chancellor, John R. Bowman, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Steve Huber, Ron Stewart, Gerald Jones, Nate Lee, Steve Rhian, and many others.
It was a thrill for Alan to produce and record his first album, No Part of Nothin'. The cast of players and singers on the project is incredible, with dozens of IBMA and GRAMMY® award wins and nominations among them. The list includes many of Alan’s musical heroes, including Sam Bush, Deryl Dodd, Kenny & Amanda Smith, Ron Stewart, Stephen Mougin, Gerald Jones, Greg Cahill, Ned Luberecki, Mike Bub, Randy Kohrs, Brad Davis, Nate Lee, Bobby Davis, and Steve Rhian. Alan is thankful to each of them for their support and amazing musical talents.
Alan is the founder and President of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, a non-profit 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of bluegrass music in America. The Foundation produced and distributed Fanning the Fire, an award-winning documentary short film about bluegrass music that has screened in more than 20 film festivals across the United States, in 2011.
Alan holds an associate's degree as a Professional Studio Artist (with high distinction) along with a Certificate in Audio Recording from the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music. He's also a proud graduate of the International Bluegrass Music Association's Leadership Bluegrass program of 2009, served on the Leadership Bluegrass Planning Committee from 2010-2018, and served as the Committee Chair from 2011-2014. Alan received the IBMA Momentum Award for Industry Involvement in 2015, and presently serves on the IBMA board of directors and the board of the Foundation for Bluegrass Music. Alan enjoys playing some great old Gibson banjos, his Huber Banjo, his old American Standard basses, a Beard dobro, and other fine instruments.