Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers
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Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers

Brooklyn, New York, United States

Brooklyn, New York, United States
Folk Americana

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"Best of 2012: 15 Albums You Should've Heard, but Probably Missed"

Since stepping away from her role holding down the low-end in southern rock trio Earl Greyhound, Kamara Thomas has moved on to her latest incarnation: fronting what she calls the “interstellar Americana” of Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers. If this band’s any indication, roots music is alive and well and it’s living in New York City. What’s really engaging about this 7-song EP is that you’re peering into the lives of people who are reflecting on, and reckoning with, the choices they made. For better or worse. And that’s something we can all relate to. Hear “Lily Gloriosa” when you get the chance. - Bold As Love Magazine


"The Afrofuture of Rock"



I moved to Manhattan in 1989 to see Earl Greyhound—but they didn't exist yet. At the turn of the '90s, in that aggressive-white- male space of hair metal deferring to Pacific Northwest cock-rock revivalists, the Brooklyn-based power trio could not have thrived. Their fearless Africana would've rendered them tokens on the scene at best. Contrary to a certain ridiculous, racist NYT article exploring the "blipster" phenomenon and mistakenly citing Earl Greyhound as evidence, black folks never left the rock field to whites. But regardless, this band is scorching that field now, roaring like a Rocket 88.
The genuine article; we cannot hustle y'all
Cary Conover
The genuine article; we cannot hustle y'all
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More About

Earl Greyhound
Bowery Ballroom
Kamara Thomas
Ricc Sheridan
Arts, Entertainment, and Media

It's still a long, dry season since the heyday of Sly, Betty Mabry Davis, and even David Bowie's experiments with Ava & the Astronettes. Thus mine has been a long, strange trip in and out of Dixie since that autumn. Mercifully, now there's a fresh, young band ringing down Valhalla.

And mighty mighty they are. When Earl Greyhound played at BAM Café last Saturday night, closing out the Black Rock Coalition's annual February residency, I literally wept when drummer Ricc Sheridan swung out on his vintage Ludwig kit at the end of one of their best songs, "Yeah I Love You." The trio's back-to-back performances this past weekend—led by their Bowery Ballroom debut Friday—were electric must-sees, especially because of vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Kamara Thomas. To witness sistagal loping on the bass in a blur of fringe and feathers is to want to sop her up with a biscuit. Whether at the rock show or crooning "Are You Ready for the Country" with her Honky Tonk Happy Hour compadres in Greenpoint, Thomas is consistently strong and open to experience, making Earl Greyhound a vital spark of evolution in what has now become rock's moribund museum culture. Furthermore, she seems both too cosmic and too grounded to immolate herself on the altar of her art as too many of her forebears have done. And not only is Thomas beautiful, but she howls exquisitely. The wails on each night's set closer, "S.O.S.," will make you a true believer in Earl Greyhound, even if you mistakenly fault their adherence to rock 'n' roll tradition and ignore the ways they're building on it.

Having been a longtime close observer of Gov't Mule (the previous era's greatest power trio), I know well the virtuosity and intricate balance such a format requires. Thomas and the group's stalwart anchor—singer, guitarist, and primary composer Matt Whyte—have apprenticed under the Earl Greyhound banner for five years, culminating in their recent recording, Soft Targets. Yet now, with the coming of new Mahavishnu-cherishing drummer Sheridan, they have achieved that complex balance and level of skill that's now growing in stunning ways on the road.

At the Bowery Ballroom, the glorious execution of the trio's epic songs bewildered an uneducated audience of pubeless wonders, making clear just how far rock culture has fallen from grace. Earl Greyhound eludes the sonic mire, though, with Whyte harnessing control and release powerfully enough that his bandmates never have to retreat from experimental, exultant liberation. Live, the band simultaneously gets fresh with roots and forecasts Afrofuture. Soft Targets, with its smart, ever shifting (even bilingual) songs of love and the flesh, takes essential seeds of Americana and reconstructs them as a new truth.

Although they draw jaded Williamsburg types, jammy twirlers, urban hillbillies, and the metro black-rock elite, Earl Greyhound cannot and refuse to be beholden to any one of these scenes. The highest compliment I can pay Sheridan is that he is such a human being that it'd be impossible to ever derive any shuck-and-jive from an Earl Greyhound gig. Of course, Whyte might buck-and-wing with his chiming ax—as a magnificent dervish during the sultry "Monkey," for example—but trust, boogie chillun, that you won't complain. And Thomas will be right there with him as morphing respondent, engaging in their wonderful shadow play of twangy harmonies while they strut and race through tempos. These three players enjoy an enviable rapport, and are mastering the perfect blue-note frequency to communicate.

Last year was all about death for me—including that of rock 'n' roll. Finally, there was pain music could not overcome. But just when I lost my hearing, Earl Greyhound and their fine record arrived as an ace boon. The passing of such titans a - Village Voice


"Earl Greyhound - Suspicious Package"

While one can feel saturated by classic rock on an almost hourly basis -- be it strategic Who or Bon Jovi television placements, Led Zep lunch hours, or a swath of Sirius channels -- it's rare when the hard stuff is actually constructed on the ground. And in a Brooklyn scene that embraces decidedly nonrock adventurers like Animal Collective and Dirty Projectors, the power trio Earl Greyhound feel all the more anomalous and refreshingly weighty.

The group looks like a throwback to a bygone era: Matt Whyte could double as a Thin Lizzy sideman, bassist-keyboardist Kamara Thomas sports an afro that would make Erykah Badu blush, while bouncer-built Ricc Sheridan bruises his kit with aplomb. On their second full-length, Earl Greyhound elide the Beatlesque harmonies that underpinned their debut, Soft Target, to deploy '70s rock of all calibers: an ELO synth wash opens the perfectly bombastic "Holy Immortality" and Whyte's Santana-like shredding drives the monstrous "Oye Vaya."

Elsewhere, the poppy stomp of "Ghost and the Witness" could stand alongside Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf. But in a decided contrast to bands who merely flash encyclopedic chops, Earl Greyhound throw in jazz chords (see slow-building ballad "Bill Evans"). And while the lyrics are often forgettable, the intertwined vocals of Thomas and Whyte (be they howled or honeyed) sound like nothing you've heard during Twofer Tuesday. - SPIN


"Off to the Races"

During a recent Earl Greyhound show, one audience member turned to another and said, “Why aren’t they signed to a major yet?” “They’re still playing,” his friend quipped. Whether or not Earl Greyhound are the Next Big Thing is irrelevant—watching them will convince you that they are. The band’s immediate reference point is Led Zeppelin, which is common enough to be almost meaningless, except that Earl Greyhound could actually pull off opening for the masters. The guitarist and singer Matt Whyte was designed for a life in rock: tall, lanky, wearing his hair long and his Les Paul guitar low. In the band’s best song, “S.O.S.,” Whyte crunches along on his guitar, but in the moments that directly summon Robert Plant, the bassist, Kamara Thomas—a beautiful woman with a big Afro—steps up to the mike and unleashes a voice that blots out the bandleader’s. And Ricc Sheridan is the most exciting drummer in New York. His arms are as big as fire hydrants, his timekeeping is implacable, and the force of his playing would make any reasonable drummer cry.

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/09/04/060904gore_GOAT_recordings1#ixzz2KibRGwzW
- The New Yorker


"At Home with Kamara and Cherokee Moon"

Becoming a mother hasn’t slowed Thomas down, or taken the rocker out of her. While Earl Greyhound is on hiatus, Thomas is using the time to work on her own album.

While Earl Greyhound is on hiatus, Thomas is using the time to work on her own album, Earth Hero, under the name Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers. “The Ghost Gamblers is my posse of friends that I've been playing with as long as I've been in Earl Greyhound, including my husband, Gordon Hartin,” Thomas said. “[Now] I'm more officially the leader of the band.” The album is scheduled for a late fall release.

“The whole time I’ve been in Earl Greyhound, I was sitting on my own solo stuff,” Thomas said. “I have about a decade of material that I’m working on. We went on hiatus right when I had the baby. It was weird -- it kind of coincided with us needing to do that, but it was also good for me because I was able to just take the time off and focus on her and also focus on my solo career.” ...

(MORE AT http://www.matermea.com/#/kamara-2/4569260532) - Mater Mea


"Kamara Thomas from Earl Greyhound goes Americana"

As long as humans have occupied the American landscape, its nearly endless variety been a source of inspiration for art. Endless plains exploding into giant snow-capped mountain ranges giving way to raging oceans on both sides. Earl Greyhound's Kamara Thomas gives voice to her lifetime obsession with the American landscape and mythos on the new “Earth Hero” by Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers.

The album collects new and old Kamara Thomas songs. Expansive and breathtaking, the songs are a cross country drive on I-80. Rusted trucks exposed to the elements on old corn farms and vacant coal mines. The American mythos are about that simultaneous hope born of infinite possibility and mourning the passing of a better simpler time that was actually worse and harder (Bill O'Reilly still hasn't figured out that the 50's pretty much sucked for most people). Album opener “My Kentucky” hits this conflict perfectly. Sad and optimistic in equal measure, it's the story of a man who spends his life looking for his fortune everywhere but home.

It's kind of fascinating that while the thematic inspiration for the album is the American landscape, the musical inspiration comes mostly from Canada by way of Neil Young and England by way of Fleetwood Mac. The record is full of giant harmonies and reverb drenched harmonies. As with her other band, the best songs tend to be the ones that stretch atmosphere and song form past their breaking point. “Lily Gloriosa” and “You Wreck Me” both make incredible use of space building from bare simplicity to cathartic explosions. - Afropunk.com


"Album review - Kamara Thomas & The Ghost Gamblers' "Earth Hero""

As a musician, I listen to music specifically for inspiration. In the past 7 years, no one single writer has continued to inspire me as much as Kamara Thomas. Her songwriting is impeccable, her style and delivery is steady and smooth, and her voice can easily transport me from a listening room to the landscape she has painted vocally.

I will admit I was excited, yet apprehensive, to discover Kamara and her backing band The Ghost Gamblers were releasing an album entitled Earth Hero. Excited to finally be able to hear these songs at any desired time. Apprehensive because after hearing these songs live for so many years, having the opportunity to see them shape and grow, I was curious how their live show would translate into a recording. It’s overwhelming how well Earth Hero has honored and supported the live element of what Kamara Thomas and Ghost Gamblers have created while pushing many aspects of songs into new dimensions because of the studio, not in spite of it.

Earth Hero begins with “My Kentucky”, an acoustic build that has seen many a room singing along at Ms. Thomas’ shows. True to the live feel, the song is a visual and emotional journey sure to capture and introduce the listener to just what Kamara’s songwriting can do. Joined by drums, harmonies, and a soft pedal steel somewhere just past the midpoint, the listener is sure to find a tapping toe tapping at the end of his or her leg.

The second track “You Call Everybody Baby” takes advantage of studio technology for tone and modification. This recorded version is quite ethereal, much different from any live version I’d ever heard. With stellar engineering and production from Jeff Malinowski (who also sings and plays guitars, bass, harmonica, tambourine, and piano), the recordings just open up and fill the space.

In a conversation with Ms. Thomas at a listening party she had high praise for mixer Dave Schiffman stating that she heard a significant difference in the songs at his fingertips. You can definitely hear the respect given to atmosphere in “Slow Sally” and “Lily Gloriosa” while they maintain their own distinct sound. All the while, the tone of the entire album is consistent and carries the listener from song to song.

One of the strongest moments on Earth Hero is “Red Wing” which showcases the type of musical journey Kamara Thomas and Ghost Gamblers offer in a live performance. The song builds throughout until the listener can feel the room being lifted and carried along with the band.

One distinctive aspect of KT&GG is their harmonies. “That’s No Way To Treat Your Sweet Guitar” showcases this amazing musical relationship exquisitely on Earth Hero.

This release closes with “You Wreck Me” (see the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VRgYHKW9eeU), a wonderful choice to wrap up all of the elements of what make Earth Hero strong, catchy, and unforgettable. - Brooklyn Country


"Former Earl Greyhound bassist Kamara Thomas takes a solo turn"

In the department of spacey alt-country or cosmic American music - or whatever it is we're calling folk-tinged country-rock these days - Kamara Thomas, the former bass player for indie power trio Earl Greyhound, has dropped a video from her upcoming solo album, Earth Hero, that's a real stunner.

Thomas

Thomas

The song, "You Wreck Me," has all the languid, atmospheric, space-Americana wooziness you'd expect from acoustic Neil Young, Lucinda Williams or Wrecking Ball-era Emmylou Harris, but Thomas is a terrific singer/songwriter in her own right. While this particular track is more traditionally country than some of the other material on Earth Hero, the entire 7-song album is similarly spare and expansive, intimate and cinematic - and hauntingly nostalgic. - Creative Loafing


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Kamara Thomas, bassist/singer of the indie power trio Earl Greyhound, returns to her solo songwriting roots by creating an album of astro-religious songspells channeled from the American Dreamtime.

Her debut solo album "Earth Hero", by Kamara Thomas and The Ghost Gamblers, is a hypnotic collection of meticulously crafted songs that transports the listener from a lost-love journey through the mythic American landscape (My Kentucky), to an angelic apocalypse (Lily Gloriosa) to a timeless ode of love/hate in the bedroom (You Wreck Me). The Ghost Gamblers create cosmic Americana from a wide swath of classic rock and country influences (Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris) with echoes of Native American shamanism, early American spirituals, hymns and mountain songs.

"Earth Hero" is a classic, coast-to-coast road trip album, traveling from melancholy to majestic. It's heart is Kamara's milky-wayed warble and her powerful storytelling, channeled through a poetic gaze and an obsession with America's landscape and psyche.