Blues Bytes


April 2009

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Pat Thomas
His Father's Son
Broke & Hungry Records

Pat Thomas

Pat Thomas was one of the highlights of last year’s must-see blues documentary, M for Mississippi. Thomas was the amiable host to Jeff Konkel and Roger Stolle during their visit to his Leland, MS apartment, showing them his many works of art in progress, almost bouncing from one side of the room to the other, then demonstrating how to make one of his clay cat heads (which were the inspiration of the name for Stolle’s own Cat Head Delta Blues and Folk Art). At the end of his segment, Thomas visited the grave of his father, legendary Delta blues musician and folk artist James “Son” Thomas, and explained how he was driven to keep his father’s memory alive through his own music and art.

Konkel’s Broke & Hungry Records has released Thomas’ debut recording, called His Father’s Son. That’s an appropriate title, as most of the songs performed were regular parts of the elder Thomas’ repertoire. Songs like “Big Fat Mama,” Cairo Blues,” Beefsteak Blues,” “61 Highway,” and “Standing At The Crossroads” will be familiar to Delta blues fans as well as Son Thomas aficionados. But Pat Thomas has two original compositions on the album --- the energetic instrumental, “Leland’s Burning Down,” and “The Woman I Love,” which was also featured on M for Mississippi, but is restructured here with drums and a faster tempo. The other tracks are also traditional fare, including the lively “Dance With The Red Dress On,” “Mule Plow Line,” John Lee Hooker’s “Dimples,” and a surprisingly effective reading of the country standard, “Rainbow At Midnight.”

All of the 13 tracks are very fine representations of down-home blues from the Delta, but Thomas really shines on the solo acoustic tracks, as the sparse arrangements on tracks like “61 Highway,” “Mule Plow Line,” “Cairo Blues,” and “Rainbow At Midnight,” seem to give the tracks an added boost of power. Vocally, Pat Thomas is similar to his father, singing in a high voice, occasionally dropping in tone for a few songs, just like his father (though his lower register is a little lower than his father’s). He possesses the same easy style on guitar. He plays electric guitar on a couple of tracks and also employs a drummer (Lee Williams) on five of the tracks.

His Father’s Son proves that Pat Thomas learned his lessons well as he proudly continues his father’s legacy. That being said, he’s no mere imitator…..he’s very much his own man with his own voice. Fans of traditional down-home Delta blues will love this set.

--- Graham Clarke


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