John Adam Thomas & The Lonely 45
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John Adam Thomas & The Lonely 45

Band Rock Americana

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"The songs on 'City Seventeen' don’t sound like just a handful of acoustic-written ditties with a band behind them: 'Shotgun Heart' pours out the kind of white-eyed Pentecostal fervor you’d find on records by Uncle Tupelo or Jason and the Scorchers; 'Dry County' has a layer of red-dirt grit and a soaring chorus suited for Thomas’ clear tenor; and 'Learn to Love The Hard Way,' with its stop-and-go rhythm, depends entirely on the band working together."

-Matthew Everett, The Metro Pulse, Knoxville, TN - MetroPulse, Knoxville, TN


Having long performed as a lone singer/songwriter in Maryland, John Adam Thomas has brought his act to Knoxville, reasoning that the city is a spawning ground for great Americana music. Having put together a recent demo, Thomas’ studio musicians quickly became a full band, and his demo soon became a legitimate release.

When recording tracks at Shed 55 Studios, Thomas had a humble goal of getting some songs down to present around town to ultimately assemble a complete band of like-minded musicians.

Before the first bits of digital information were imbedded, studio owner and drummer Dave Dewitt and a diverse group of sessions players jumped at the chance to be Thomas’ backing band. Despite having come from different musical backgrounds, the players could all recognize Thomas’ raw songwriting ability.

“It all just started when I went into Shed 55 to make a CD basically with the intent of finding a band,” Thomas says. “It turned out that Dave (DeWitt) played drums on the CD and called up Adrian (Sanabria) to play bass on it. Then, after it was recorded, we started talking about releasing it and thought it would be cool to play as a full band, and they’d already been talking about it. So we all agreed to do it.”

The studio trio was joined by Denny Myers, DeWitt’s partner in local act Magpie Suite, and the lineup was consolidated by the end of the summer. Since then, the new band has practiced and prepared Thomas’ work to accommodate a full-band live show, the first of which will be a CD release for the group’s recordings, titled “City Seventeen.”

“We’re all pretty seasoned,” says DeWitt. “We’ve all been around the Knoxville scene as parts of other things. We’ve been practicing the same way we’re going to play, but so far I’d call it practice rather than rehearsal. We’re writing as we go since many of the songs had originally only been written for one person. So we’ve all been perfecting our individual parts, and we’re ready to go.”

John Adam Thomas and group agree that the added influence of a full band has made for more of a rock sound. Thomas says that is exactly what he had in mind. While Thomas embraces the Americana tag, the rest of the band shies away, pushing the rock label, due to the interpretations of many who view Americana as being equal parts country and rock. While the country themes are indeed present in the personal subject matter, very little twang is evident in the unique songs of John Adam Thomas.

“With the band I was in in Maryland, (Americana) was mainly what we did,” says Thomas. “We actually opened for some bigger names, so I always had that in the background but always wanted to get more into the rock side of it. I’ve always been influenced by guys like Superdrag obviously, some High Score, Steve Earl, Mic Harrison and guys like that.”

“The term ‘Americana,’ to me, is kind of like ADD; it’s always been around, but someone just put a name to it,” adds Myers. “It may be true or not, but I guess Americana is what you get when you cross country and rock. I always called it rock. Maybe it has some country influence, but that’s also called roots rock and a score of other names now all known as Americana.”

Tonight John Adam Thomas and crew will show fans exactly what they mean, no labels attached, playing their first live show at The Pint House (815 Merchants Drive). The show, which is free of charge, will be opened by Sam Lewis at 10 p.m.

- Knoxville News Sentinel


Discography

City Seventeen-2007
The Rise & Fall-2009

Photos

Bio

Love. Heartache. Loss. Repeat. The story has been the same for years, only the cast and costumes seem to change. In an age where nothing really new has been done in music for a while, it's the words that will set you apart. And it's that view that leads to the honest songwriting of John Adam Thomas & The Lonely 45.

Having spent his time honing his songwriting skills in and out of bands in the Baltimore and Washington DC areas, Thomas moved to Knoxville, Tennessee for a change of scenery.

"I've always felt anyone, anywhere, can be taught to play an instrument the same way people have been taught for years, and be able to string music and chords together," said Thomas, over a cup of coffee in a favorite downtown Knoxville coffeehouse. "However, it takes someone really special to be able to write words that evoke many feelings, and let people in enough to understand what you're trying to say. Any radio station in America is proof of the former, and lyricists like Bruce Springsteen, Roger Waters, and Jay Farrar are proof of the latter."

"I think the perfect marriage between lyric writing and musicianship has really been missing over the past 16 years or so in music."

Armed with a slew of songs, and a band full of Knoxville area studio musicians (who all joined on with Thomas fulltime after seeing how songwriting really can set you apart from the rest), the Lonely 45 are on course to prove that, though anyone with a computer can be a superstar these days, it is, and will always be, the song that counts.