Judy Thompson, widow of banjo legend Bobby Thompson, has released a second CD featuring Bobby on banjo. Thompson Picks Some More includes 11 previously released tracks taken from various artists’ projects, plus two on disc here for the first time.
Bobby is a hero to a great many banjo players, especially those who embrace more progressive music on the 5 string. He is widely regarded as being as influential as Bill Keith in the development of melodic banjo playing, though he never received the same degree of recognition. Many folks will recall Thompson as the bearded banjo picker on the old Hee Haw television program; he also played on the opening and closing themes.
Thompson retired from music in 1987 when multiple sclerosis took away his ability to control his hands. He passed away in 2005.
Thompson Picks Some More begins with a four and a half minute recitation, The 5-String Banjo According To Bobby, where he discusses and describes his beloved instrument in a thumbnail overview of the banjo and its various playing styles.
The remainder of the disc covers Thompson’s long career in bluegrass, from cuts with Carl Story (Fire On The Banjo, Banjolina), Jim & Jesse (Dixie Hoedown, Border Ride, Sugarfoot Rag), and his subsequent work as a session player in Nashville.
The settings range from traditional bluegrass bands to a pops orchestra supporting a banjo on Foggy Mountain Breakdown. In between are pop country arrangements (Smokey and the Bandit movie theme) and one track with Area Code 615 (Lady Madonna). All feature Bobby on banjo, except for the closing track, Hoka Hey, Lakotas by Chris LeDoux, which was one of his favorite songs.
A few of these tracks were clearly taken from LP recordings, which merely adds a special charm to the project, making all the more clear that the project is a labor of love for Judy Thompson – and a gift to Bobby’s many remaining fans.
You can read more about Bobby Thompson on the web site which Judy maintains in his honor, where you can also order a copy of the CD.