Tom Ralston

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Tom Ralston
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Santa Cruz, California
CitizenshipUnited States of America
Alma mater
  • Cabrillo College
  • University of California
  • Sculptor
  • Musician
  • Rachelle
  • Matt
  • Zach
  • Anthony

Thomas Edward Ralston (born 1950) is a sculptor and musician from Santa Cruz, California. Ralston is the president of Tom Ralston Concrete, serves on the Advisory Committee for Construction Education at Cabrillo College and is on the National Decorative Concrete Council Board. Ralston is known as one of the top concrete artists in the United States.[1] Ralston is the lead singer and founder of the band The Tom Ralston Ensemble.[2][3]

Concrete career

Chinese sculpture built by Tom Ralston. Ralston started working with concrete in 1964 with his father Jim Ralston at Tom Ralston Concrete while attending Santa Cruz High School. Tom Ralston Concrete was founded in 1928 by his grandfather Wilbur Thomas Ralston.[4] Ralston worked at the company for years as the third generation of the Ralstons learning the trade of concrete. In 1989 Ralston took over Tom Ralston Concrete as the new owner after his father retired.[5][6] Tom Ralston Concrete under Tom Ralston became more famous through his unique works.[7] Ralston's innovations in concrete led to his company creating unique walls, foundations and interiors. In 1992 Ralston started speaking for the Decorative Concrete Council. Ralston annually gives seminars and teaches at the World of Concrete conventions.[8][9] Interior Design (magazine) awarded Ralston for his concrete and construction contributions to a house in which he created a koi pond in a living room as well as a Japanese soaking tub in the bathroom.[10] In March 2004, Ralston was a speaker at The World of Concrete's in Orlando, Florida.[11]

Ralston was inducted into the Decorative Concrete Hall of Fame in 2011.[12] At the World of Concrete convention in 2013 Tom Ralston won first place in the best specialty concrete award for the Geo Strata Terrace project.[13] The Geo Strata Terrace project consisted of a 5 million year old whale bone discovered in 2009 by Santa Cruz paleontologists and was fused with other fossils.[14] Tom Ralston Concrete was asked to design the Santa Cruz Wharf Roundabout in 2015. Tom Ralston personally assisted with the construction of the roundabout and included dolphin sculptures embedded in the concrete to act as arrows for the roundabout.[15] At the World of Concrete convention in 2016 Tom Ralston Concrete won the most awards for their decorative concrete work in Santa Cruz. In July 2020 Ralston was commissioned to create a dragon and arch to honor the former Santa Cruz Chinatown. Ralston also created a 17-foot Chinese memorial gate dedicated to the early Chinese immigrants buried at Evergreen Cemetery in Santa Cruz.[16][17] Ralston collaborated with local historians to create the Chinese memorial and was commissioned by the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.[18][19]


Ralston started playing music in his youth and formed a rock band called West Side Raider Band. In the early 2000s, Ralston formed an ensemble featuring a string orchestra, background singers, saxophone, guitarist, bassist and a drummer. The ensemble was first called the Tom Ralston All Stars and later changed to The Tom Ralston Ensemble. Drawing from the Suffi mystic poet Rumi along with his struggles with drugs and alcohol he released his first album Ruminations in 2013. In 2017 Ralston released his second studio album called Nomads & Nightingales. Ralston's studio albums were released on and Apple Music. Ralston's first performance with his band was on December 15, 2015 at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center.[20]


Studio albums

  • Ruminations (2013)
  • Nomads & Nightingales (2017)


  • Ralston, Tom (2007) "Cast-In-Place Concrete Countertops: A Guide for Craftsmen". Schiffer Publishing.
  • Ralston, Tom (2014) "Sculpting Hillsides with Decorative Concrete". Schiffer Publishing.

In the media



  1. "10 Most Influential People in Decorative Concrete". Concrete Decor. July 2015.
  2. Nasvik, Joe (May 2002). "Decorative Concrete". Concrete Construction.
  3. "DCF TRAINER PROFILE: TOM RALSTON". Brickform Training.
  4. "Tom Ralston Concrete". Concrete Network.
  5. Leal, Carolyn (December 8, 2002). "Cutting Edge Concrete". Santa Cruz Sentinel.
  6. "Celebrating 75 Years In Business". Santa Cruz Sentinel. April 23, 2003.
  7. Searls, David (April 2017). "Texture Tactics". Concrete Decor.
  8. Granitto, Diana (June 26, 2014). "Innovation In Beauty and Function". Concrete Construction.
  9. Jeske, Brad (February 26, 2004). "A Passion for Innovation Keeps this Concrete Contractor Excited about the Trade". Concrete Decor.
  10. "Ashton Interiors". Interior Design. July 2001.
  11. "People In Business". Santa Cruz Sentinel. March 15, 2004.
  12. "The 2011 Inductees". Concrete Decor Show.
  13. Gumz, Jondi (February 26, 2013). "Tom Ralston Concrete wins award". Santa Cruz Sentinel.
  14. Gaura, Maria (August 6, 2015). "10 reasons to visit Santa Cruz County now". San Francisco Chronicle.
  15. Klemenc, Stacey (April 1, 2016). "Seasoned Santa Cruz contractor claims three firsts in ASCC competition". Concrete Decor.
  16. Hannula, Tarmo. "Mosaic project honors Chinatown". The Pajaronian.
  17. York, Jessica (October 14, 2019). "Santa Cruz to dub pedestrian way 'Chinatown Bridge'". Santa Cruz Sentinel.
  18. Guzman, Kara (September 27, 2013). "Santa Cruz museum unveils Chinese memorial". Santa Cruz Sentinel.
  19. "Chinatown Bridge Gate Dragon". Santa Cruz City Arts.
  20. Baine, Wallace (December 2, 2015). "Concrete artist Tom Ralston finds a new muse in music". Santa Cruz Sentinel.

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