The styles on “One More Mile” by Dave Thomas are like the dates and locations of the recording sessions: All over the map.
It opens with straight-ahead, horn-infused blues, goes to acoustic folk ballads and finishes with fiery vintage British blues. They represent three pages of Thomas’ 50-year storied career.
Based in Norwich, England, Thomas compiled the album from sessions that go back to the 1990s. The Covid lockdown has allowed time for a project such as this. Three more records are in the works.
Thomas is an ambassador of the blues. He puts on the Fine City Blues Festival and runs the Fine City Blues Club, which hosted Thursday night shows for nearly seven years. Lately, the weekly shows are streamed on Facebook and feature blues players from the United Kingdom and United States.
A product of the British blues scene of the 1960s, Thomas fronted the prog rock group Blonde on Blonde. For a decade, he led a house band, Shake Down Blues, that backed visiting African-American artists. His blues has a Chicago flavor, with a vocals-guitar call-and-response bent. The strongest examples being aggressive yet cool tunes “Poor Boy” and the Albert Collins-esque “Like My Chicken Fried.” It’s no surprise Thomas has performed at the Chicago Blues Festival.
The opening session has four blues songs, leading off with “It’s My Own Fault.” The B.B. King cover features the horn section from the USA’s Travis Haddix Band and Thomas’ authentic blues vocals. The 6 minute, 20 second jam segues into a jazzy blend of the horns and snappy drum licks from Terry Popple, best known for his time in Van Morrison’s band.
Next we go to Ireland to hear three songs penned by Canada’s Joe Henderson, played entirely by Irish multi-instrumentalist Declan Sinnott and sung by Thomas. “I Want The Blues” is a catchy acoustic guitar and harmonica track.
And now for something completely different: Old British rock jolts the listener with a style is reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix’s second album, “Axis: Bold as Love,” recorded in London in 1967. The psychedelic rocker “Garden” is the highlight of “One More Mile.” The three tunes are written and performed by Tony McPhee and his band The Groundhogs. They were recorded in Bristol. Thomas added his vocals and mixed the songs in Norfolk.
The three rockers at the end provide quite a surprising, satisfying sendoff.
It will be interesting to see what Thomas pulls out of his vault next.
- Dave Thomas
- ‘One More Mile’
- Label: Blonde On Blonde
- Release: Feb. 5, 2021
- Favorite tracks: ‘Garden,’ ‘Poor Boy,’ ‘Strange Town’