Ian Thomas

Ian Thomas


"I've seen Ian Thomas live several times and I don't say it lightly when I proclaim that one of those performances was the most powerful and awe inspiring sets I have ever seen in my life." - Urban Folk


For the last ten years, songster Ian Thomas has been on the road - sometimes in style, sometimes hitchhiking or in an old car, long past its prime. He began playing on the streets between San Francisco and New Orleans, forming brief collaborations with other street performers, then moving on. Drawing on varied influences from the roots of America's canon, his songs are familiar, yet his own. Sometimes described as a one man band, Thomas plays the guitar, harmonica, and kazoo - each with a distinctiveness that drives his flexible performances. After living for a few years in New York City, where he recorded both his first studio album, "A Young Man's Blues", and his latest release, "Live At Rockwood Music Hall", Ian has spent time in various cities, putting on shows and working odd jobs.

Ian Thomas's debut album is a "fast, focused, forward-looking" powerhouse of acoustic blues from one of the most honest and engaging undiscovered singer-songwriters of our time.

After traveling the country for years with a guitar and a knapsack strapped to his back, Ian Thomas gave up the wandering life and settled into New York City, busking for cash and living out of a beaten-up 1977 Toyota Corolla. It is this unusual life story that forms the backdrop of “A Young Man’s Blues”, an album that is as mired in the confusion and paranoia of the modern world as it is rooted in traditional American folk and blues.


Halfway Gone

Written By: I. Thomas

Halfway gone, halfway in a memory
Silk streets like ribbons in the wind
Let loose beneath my heels,
Disappear in the distance
Hear the soft fade of a dissipating day
Never to return to me again.

I left my love waiting in the village green
While I took the only train to sea
I know that wasn’t very dependable of me.
But I don’t miss the rituals,
The back and forth or the difficulties
We held like rope as we mired
I’m not ashamed to tell you I’m tired.

I lost my hat in a quick wind at the ocean shore
And I found myself lazing in the sand
Amused by the diamonds on my hands
Then a winged thing flew overhead and sat down on the waterbed
It was all that I could see for a while
There was nothing I could do but smile.

But a man can’t live camped out in a reverie
And not think sometimes about the fall
I really don’t remember that at all
But I know some of the deeds I’ve done
The missteps and the grace unwon
And I know I’m accountable for it all
I wish I had answered when you called.

So I’ll ask you, now
Can we leave off where we picked up
Aren’t some things just too twisted to untie
And is it even worth our time to try?
There is no bound beyond the ground
No roots to be unwound
Out amid the foaming sky and sea
What do you expect for there to be?

The Old World Rose
Rows in from Mexico
Red sails raised before the dawn
I wonder what’s been taking her so long...
I’ve done all I can think to do
I’ve been through everything in view
And I’m ready now for something new to feel.

Poor Children

Written By: I. Thomas

Rattlesnake Suzie,
she was the princess of the
She used to hunt down on the
ground rattlesnake skins
just to hang 'em all in a line.
She got so used to rattlesnake
she never paid 'em no mind,
'til one day she picked up a
rattlesnake skin
with a real live rattler inside.

And she came running, poor
She came running back to the
She came running, poor children.
She came running back to the

Pioneer Peter, he couldn't wait
to cross the great divide.
He put a foot out, stepped out,
in the middle of the night,
didn't even wait to say goodbye.
And he stepped so swift upon the
green plain, there was nothing
that could break his stride,
'til he got hit by a hundred
year rain on the banks of the
river so wide.

And he came running, poor
He came running back to the
He came running, poor children.
He came running back to the

I Ain't Lonesome

Written By: I. Thomas

Snow falls on the railroad ties this evening,
And the shoulders of the overcoated men,
Standing guard o'er the trains
That have long since run the main,
And will likely never feel the rails again.

And the voices that I once had heard so clearly,
And found at once so easy to believe,
Have shifted in the wind,
As it trails around the bend,
And fall like a dead language on me.

And the hinges of the morning are a-creakin'
And there's no one here to hear except for me,
And the days before have turned,
As the flags on the mainsails burned,
And like broken ships, have sank into the sea.

And I ain't waitin' on any passing train,
Nor howlin' at the moon to freeze its face.
And I ain't sellin' off my soul for company;
I'm already taking up this space.

And the friends that I have known to bare their faces,
They shine, just like stars in an empty night.
And I can draw them
Into patterned lines and spaces,
But the borders of my memory bend the light.

And with outward eyes, I'd find repose
In my dealings with the merchants of the sea.
But Neptune's creatures dwell
Beneath both calm and stormy swell,
And no pirate crew can raise you from the deep

And the poets on the stand can bear no witness;
They all must first agree on déjà vu.
But like a nose against a rose,
Or the leaves when the March wind blows,
No net of words can carry this to you

But you had me once before,
When I waited by your gated, golden door,
Not long before I learned
Not to linger where it's cold,
And when I left, you were leaning on your door

But I ain't callin' out anybody's name,
Nor whinin' for the trees above to bend;
And I ain't lonesome 'bout any one girl,
I'm just lonesome 'bout being in this world.

The Teeth Of The Rake

Written By: I. Thomas

I am a kind fellow that's easy and bold
and I'll tell you my tale as it's often been told
and I'm loose with my store if you're hungry or cold
and I trust in the kinship you offer
for it's dark in the mines and it's hot in the fields
and I've learned in my day the good worth of my meals
and I've seen much abuse by the lords and their deals
and I'd sooner they choked in their coffers

It was early one spring in my twenty-first year
when the men of my town were called out to the square
to face with the gentry imposing us there
with parchments to claims on our homesteads.
some took to talking and some stood to brawl
and the brashest were quickest to answer the call
but the old men had warned they'd be back in the fall
with torches to set to our grainstores

As young folk are foolish and green as the rue
we spent many a day in the comforts of June
expecting the worst of our troubles were through
we accepted the bargains of bankers.
But time, moving quickly, was not on our side
we lost many a friend in hypnosis to rhyme
and just as the fall of the fruit from the vine
their bodies were trained to be anchors.

I was out with sweet Molly on the fairest of days
when the breeze of October kissed light on her face
as the bells of the town rang out in distress
that the spies had been poisoning our waters.
And the comp'ny rode in with their torches and chains
and they bound the resistors and burned all our grains
and the satisfied cowards stood idle and safe
as they twisted the hair of our daughters.

Now once I'll be duped if I'm blind to their games
but twice I'll be wise and ready in wait
and if through such force I've my freedom to gain
then their throats'll be cleft by my dagger.
And out with the dawn so I lashed at the crew
that mutinied my home in the devil's review
and I still search the town for the lingering few
that stand out in the way that they stagger.

If you chance for to go to the town that's most near
you will see that it's fallen behind the frontier
and it stands as an outpost of all that we fear
and tomorrow their troops will be marching.
I have no respect for the weak in the heart
the merciless minions who madly take part
in the rape and deceit of what ne'er should be scarred
and I'll not let my soul be unguarded.

Sweet Celeny

Written By: I. Thomas

Sweet Celeny, let me take you to the country fields
You can put your hands on my eyes
And whisper all your sweetest lies
We can roll to the river's time
And let our love be blind
Sweet Celeny, let me take you to the country fields

Sweet Celeny, you're a native city girl
You've been too long in the noise
Wastin' time on all those city boys
And if I offered you the choice,
Would you come away with me
Sweet Celeny, to my native country world

Sweet Celeny, let me cook you a country meal
With clove and mint and thyme
And fruit picked ripe from the vine
And a bottle of homemade wine we can drink by the moon
Sweet Celeny, won't you try my country food

Sweet Celeny, I've got nothing else on my mind
But a garden without gates
And a free and empty day
We can take it our own way
And at our own pace
Sweet Celeny, I've got nothing else on my mind

Open Letter To A Lover

Written By: I. Thomas

Now I know that I've been here before
All my breaths are choked by moaning
We drag each other down while underneath the door
Crawls the crazy light of morning

And it dawns on me just how wrong a love can be
How your restless breast deceived the best in me
And I make for to move, for the leave your love behind
For my eyes to pull the rest on out of me
But there's something like your arms pulling back on me

You bragged of all your independent means
How all your money made you freer
And you would criticize my margin and degree
You said i could not be thinner

But now I walk alone and I keep it close to the bone
Ain't no one gonna pick no flesh off me
Did you forget how much you leaned on a rag man like me
You know you beg pretty fucking low for such a queen
And I asked nothing more of you than to care for me

Withold your tongue while your witching hour is near
And withold your deadly conversation
And beware that you might be reborn without your sense to hear
The warning bell's reiteration

For I might reappear by another name you know
And I might wear my face on someone else's bones
And it would bore me to the teeth if I heard that you still spoke
Through the wounded lips of love that's left unknown
And I'd beg your beating blood to be more bold


"Live At Rockwood Music Hall" (2005)
"The Rattlesnake EP" (2004)
"A Young Man's Blues" (2003)

Set List

Sets are usually 45-90 min.

A Young Man's Blues
Honey, Can I Count On You?
The Teeth of The Rake
Ain't Gonna Lose
Lonesome Blue Ocean
Poor Boy Rag
Ain't Gonna Dredge
Sweet Celeny
It's Autumn Underneath This Tree
Black Crow Medicine
I Ain't Lonesome

Poor Children
Open Letter To A Lover
Hibernation Sickness
It's Not Losin' You
Someday Baby Blues
Halfway Gone
In The Morning
You Got To Change Your Mind