Angels on the Backroads

Angels on the Backroads

 Iuka, Mississippi, USA

Angels on the Backroads a multimedia stage tribute to Blues and Jazz by Frank & Eddie Thomas “If you have a chance to see this show, grab it with both hands” -Blues in Britain “Inspiring in idea and execution” -Living Blues


Angels on the Backroads is a tribute to the musical roots from along Highway 61 by Mississippi brothers, Eddie and Frank Thomas. It began as a 65 song, 4 CD collection of classic blues and jazz recorded on location between Memphis and New Orleans and progressed to a multimedia stage show that has toured both the US and UK.

So much is going on with Eddie’s five guitars, trumpet and harmonica and Frank’s large screen video, it's hard to know exactly where to direct eyes and ears, but all works in sync like magic. Two hours after leaving Memphis, with a collected treasure trove of sights, sounds, songs and stories about famous musicians and historic locations picked up along the way, Eddie blows Frank’s images of New Orleans’ French Quarter into view with a steamy rendition of Louis Armstrong’s Hotter Than That.

Frank’s video production is a combination of his recent, colorful journeys along the backroads of the Mississippi Delta and beyond plus vintage and archive footage from the Library of Congress and Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The four hours of edited video from this award-winning filmmaker gives Angels on the Backroads flexibility. With Eddie’s vast repertoire of classic and original songs acting as travel guide, concert goers are treated to a journey of edutainment where for two hours they are relaxed, carefree, sightseeing vagabonds along the rivers, rails and backroads of the deep Mid-South.

“All you need to do to get Frank and Eddie to reminisce about the stops behind them is ask, and the stories flow like the mighty Mississippi.”

Liane Hansen
Weekend Edition Sunday
National Public Radio


After Frank graduated from Louisiana State University and Eddie from Mississippi State University and The University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy, the brothers returned to their hometown of Iuka, Mississippi. Intent on producing documentary and promotional films, they formed a partnership, Thomasfilms.

Prior to incorporation in 1994, Thomasfilms produced America’s Spirit for Hyde School, Bath, Maine; Burke Mountain for Burke Mountain Ski Resort, East Burke, Vermont; Chase It for Chase Golf and Tennis Camp, Bethlehem, New Hampshire; Film Parade for WTBS Superstation, Atlanta, Georgia; Zeb and Sal (winner of a Gold Award at the 1993 WORLDFEST/Houston International Film Festival); and a documentary entitled The Changing Face of Mississippi.

In 1994, Thomasfilms, Inc. expanded to audio production. They produced Natchez Trace: A Road Through the Wilderness, a six audio cassette, self-guided driving tour of the Natchez Trace Parkway. It was awarded a Benjamin Franklin Award from Publishers Marketing Association, an Award of Merit from Mississippi Heritage Trust/Mississippi Historical Society, and a Certificate of Commendation from the American Association for State and Local History. A radio program entitled Natchez Trace: A Road Through the Wilderness, produced by Thomasfilms, Inc. and narrated by Frank, was broadcast bi-weekly in 1996 and 1997 over Public Radio in Mississippi.

Angels on the Backroads was conceived and initiated in 1995 to tell an audio musical history of blues and jazz along Highway 61, Memphis to New Orleans, in 65 classic songs. On location recording of the 65 songs spanned three years, 1998 to 2001. The Angels on the Backroads 4CD project was completed in 2003. The Thomas Brothers were guests of Liane Hansen on Weekend Edition Sunday (NPR).

To increase awareness of musical history to the residents in the Highway 61 corridor, Memphis to New Orleans, Eddie and Frank initiated a Musical Heritage Tour to Mississippi high schools and colleges. The tour is sponsored by Delta State University and since 2004 has impacted over 25,000 students.

Since 2005, Eddie and Frank have given almost 60 Angels on the Backroads concerts in the United Kingdom in three tours.


An absolutely magical journey down the Mississippi with wonderful film and photographic images accompanying stories and songs – if you get the chance to see this show, grab it with both hands!

The Thomas Brothers have produced a work of considerable achievement, and it is conveyed with a sense of total commitment to what they do.

This is much more than a labor of love from the brothers. It is an inspired and visionary collection documenting the birth, infancy and subsequent progression of delta and country blues.

Blues in Britain Magazine

Some artists create works with a subtle sense of place. Frank and Eddie Thomas overtly push that approach to the limit.

Dirty Linen Magazine

Inspiring in idea and execution.

Living Blues Magazine

I can't think offhand of another album where the recording engineer is listed as one o


Natchez Trace: A Road Through the Wilderness
Vol. 1 - Memphis to Clack's Store
Vol. 2 - Robinsonville to the Valley Store
Vol. 3 - Mounds Landing to Crawford Street
Vol. 4 - Catfish Row to Jackson Square

Set List

Frank Thomas has over 4 hours of edited video from along Highway 61, Memphis to New Orleans, and Eddie Thomas' corresponding Blues and Jazz repertoire is in excess of 100 songs, so the Angels on the Backroads multimedia stage show has great flexibility. A typical set list might be one used in the Fall 2006 United Kingdom Tour:

First Hour:

Good Evening Everybody - Sonny Boy Williamson
Downtown Blues - Frank Stokes
Kansas City Blues - Jim Jackson
Mississippi Blues - William Brown
Big Road Blues - Tommy Johnson
High Water Everywhere - Charley Patton
Cross Road Blues - Robert Johnson
Juke - Walter Jacobs
Steel Parallel Lines - Eddie Thomas
Avalon Blues - John Hurt
Bull Frog Blues - William Harris
Prez Returns - Lester Young
Hotter Than That - Louis Armstrong
Let The Good Times Roll - Louis Jordan

Second Hour:

Frisco Blues - Big Boy Crudup
Poor Boy, Long Ways from Home - Gus Cannon
Buddy Bolden's Blues - Jelly Roll Morton
Mr. Jelly Lord - Jelly Roll Morton