Sad? Scared? Hell, no! 

This morning I was in the hospital for one of several procedures over the past month and continuing over the next several days. Laying there, I suddenly became very emotional and teary-eyed, and the nurse asked me what was wrong, as they hadn't even started the anesthesia yet. I told her nothing was wrong; quite the contrary. I was overcome with the good fortune I've had and how immeasurably wealthy I feel.

When you get into music at an early age (I was fifteen in this photo and already gigging up a storm), the measure of success is always being rich and famous. In fact, the running joke with the lifelong friend who took this photo is that, to this day, every time he sees me, he asks, "So, are you famous yet?"

It takes a while for you to realize that the true measure of success is the experiences playing music brings you. I've made a lot of money doing this, and there were times when I LOST a lot of money doing this. I've traveled the world and seen a lot of places many folks will never get to see.

Strange that I rarely find myself remembering a particular studio session or gig or musical moment onstage. I'm always thinking about things like:

Cookouts and beers and football at the soundman's condo with the band the day after a hometown gig ...

Or sitting around jamming with my folks in the old house at an impromptu after-party after playing bass for them on one of their gigs…

Or feeling the cold wind on the deck of the ferry from Germany to Denmark looking out at the Baltic Sea on the way to my first time playing Copenhagen…

Or retrieving a round of drinks in a bar for the rest of the band (who were all in their 30s) when I was 17, and having the bartender say he couldn't serve me and I had to leave, and me saying, “Then you ain't got no music tonight, pal.”

Or growing up sitting around with old friends playing guitars and mandolins and pianos and banjos and washtub bass and funky stuff until the wee hours, eating and drinking too much, while unwittingly learning how to actually play and sing.

Or hitting on the hottest chick in the room after a gig in Germany; a "chick" who is now my wife and the most amazing person I've ever encountered…

Or the many great friends who have called and checked up on me the past few weeks to see how I'm doing. My dad used to call these kind of people "foxhole friends." I treasure each one of you more than you can possibly know.

I'm not afraid of anything anymore, and looking forward to making a lot more music - and memories - with all of you.  See y'all out there when all this is over.

"CHECK ONE TWO..."
 

 

Whatever happened to child labor laws?! 

Age 11. Some people have kids to help them carry stuff and do yardwork and chores. My parents just had me because they got tired of trying to find a decent bass player. #jeffersonthomas #americanamusic #americana

EARLY RECORDING SESSION MEMORIES... 

There I was, a young multi-instrumental gunslinger, having just landed in NYC, hired on an album project being cut at Cove City Studios, the place where they had done all those Mariah Carey records and countless other monsters, owned and operated by Billy Joel sax legend Richie Cannata.

Sitting next to Richie at the console while his engineer tweaked a mix, I began gushing to him what an honor it was working with the guy who had played all those classic Billy Joel sax parts. "I mean, man...Just The Way You Are...that solo was a composition in and of itself. Just an absolute masterpiece."

Richie smiled politely and said, "Well, actually that was Phil Woods."

It was the first time I ever recall wishing I could spontaneously combust.

Meanwhile, at an airport in India... 

This is how ya do it, folks. You show me some love, and I’ll show you some love!  And I learned something today: I didn’t even know where “Goa” was.  Maybe it’s time to include India as a stop on the next overseas tour!

Happy Anniversary! 

My dad was playing a gig and some mutual friends set up a blind date. The deal was, the singer who came up to request a certain song would be the one he was supposed to ask out.
 
So he’s waiting on this song all night.  But the singer (my mom) chickens out and sends her friend up to request the song. On a break, my dad, kind of underwhelmed, says to the guys in the band, “Yeah, she’s all right, but her FRIEND – what’s SHE all about? What’s goin’ on there?”

They finally got it all straightened out and ended up getting married, a whole lot of April 14ths ago.

Playa for life! 

Spent a little time with my dad this morning, in a way. I have his 1961 Epiphone Casino with me down south, in its original case, which of course is an absolute indestructible tank. They don't make shit like that anymore.

One of my dad's annoying (and now cherished) habits was that he rarely threw anything away. The compartments of that case are stuffed full of an entire life story of repair receipts, setlists, business cards and flyers from musicians met along the way, and even a couple of unopened sets of strings that are at least 30 years old, which are probably pure rust by now.

But the coup de gras was this hotel room key envelope from a Holiday Inn Express, from who-knows-what town. Keepin' it real, pops. Road warrior. No presidential suite for this gangsta. Hit the complimentary continental breakfast, throw down some shitty lukewarm coffee, then head on out for the next town and do it all over again.

Playa for life…

Not the least bit Irish, but St. Patrick's Day is always very special to me... 

I'm not the least bit Irish, but St. Patrick's Day for me is always a special memory of my first-ever paying gig.  My dad was the guitarist in the backing band of an Irish singer who would come over from Belfast several times a year and play the US. They always did big business in NYC and upstate NY, and there was an enormous Irish festival there every year for St. Patrick's Day.

One day, my dad gets off the phone and says they're doing that festival again, and the guy needs a bass player for this gig on short notice.  I was eleven.  I had taken up bass two years earlier, and had just recently gotten my first-ever instrument, an old Hofner-copy Beatle-esque bass, with action so high you could win an archery contest with it (it still adorns my wall at home)...

...so I was suddenly pressed into duty.  One of my friends called as were were leaving, wanting me to meet the gang and play football.  "Tell him I gotta play a job" I said matter-of-factly, savoring the words.

There was no rehearsal.  My dad explained to me during the long drive to the festival that "It's pretty much all three-chord stuff, kinda simple and a lot of fun, but it moves pretty fast.  Just follow me and listen to the singer; you'll be fine."  I got there and met the other guys in the band, who had flown in from Ireland. I could barely understand any of them.  I remember my dad being really proud and thrilled that I was joining him.  We played about an hour, then took a break and I sat with the guys, having my first corned-beef and cabbage, and my first beer ("Don't tell your mother" my Dad whispered, conspiringly).  Then we played another two sets, I got paid a couple hundred bucks and just smiled the whole way home.

It marked the beginning of the end of whatever football career I may have been destined for. 

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