Steve Thomas has been part of the bluegrass scene in Nashville for quite some time, working on mandolin and fiddle with top artists like Del McCoury, The Osborne Brothers, and The Whites. He has also earned his stripes in the country world, touring and recording with Aaron Tippin, Barbara Mandrell, Kenny Chesney, Brooks and Dunn, John Michael Montgomery, Lorrie Morgan and more.
In my part of the world (southwest Virginia), Steve is viewed as a major success story. Growing up in Montgomery County, he lived on a farm, and worked hard as a young boy in a fairly tough life. But as he grew, he picked up his dad’s passion for music, and by the time he was a teen, Thomas was turning heads at the regional festivals and fiddler’s conventions. Soon he was running with other young bluegrass prodigies in the area, but everything changed when he moved to nearby Salem, VA when he turned 18.
There he met up with Tim Austin and Jerry McMillan, who were working on putting together a band with a powerful new sound. Steve joined up with them, and even gets credit with coining the band name, Lonesome River Band. Then in 1982, his friend David Parmley called to let him know that Del McCoury was hunting a fiddler. He made the drive to Pennsylvania to try out, but was beaten out for the gig by JB Prince. But he left the band shortly after, and Steve got the call.
Folks around here remember him as that super talented young kid who left his job at the local music shop to play on the road – and made it in Nashville!
Through most of his career in music, Thomas has been a sideman, helping artists to sound better. He did one project with Mark Newton a few years ago, but when Mark fell ill, Steve went to work with David Parmley. Now that David has announced his retirement, it is fortunate that Steve had recently launched his own group, The Time Machine, and signed with Bonfire Music Group to record an album.
A debut single is released today, one Thomas wrote for his beloved wife. He says that she is the inspiration for Down In The Wildwood.
“I wrote this song to celebrate my 37 years with my sweet wife Janet. As the line in the song says, ‘she’s still here and the love’s still strong.'”
You can hear both the country and bluegrass influences from his many years in Nashville, supported by Jason Owen on guitar, Josh Matheny on reso-guitar, Chris Wade on banjo, and Austin Ward on bass.