New Year’s nightmare for Steve Thomas

While most of us were spending New Year’s Eve with family and friends, or maybe taking in a concert or jamming with friends, Steve Thomas, noted Nashville sideman and one half of bluegrass duo Newton & Thomas, spent his in the cold watching his home of three years in Gallatin ablaze.

Steve and his wife Janet had been enjoying a quiet evening at home, watching a movie, when they noticed smoke coming in from an adjoining room. They had a fire going in the fireplace as they had done many times before.

“I had let the fire burn down a little bit, which sometimes gets a bit smokey. But when I noticed it was coming from another room, I followed the smoke up to the bonus room. I could see that there was a fire inside the wall; the electrical outlet was glowing.”

They called the fire department and Thomas gave some thought to taking emergency action on his own.

“I went down to get a fire extinguisher and a sledgehammer and thought about fighting the fire myself, but the fire fighters got there really quickly – in about five minutes. They told me that by the time we saw the smoke, the fire could have been burning for an hour inside that wall.”

Steve and Janet tried to get as many valuables out of the house as they could before the smoke became too dense. He was able to rescue all of his instruments, and their two dogs, but lost almost everything else in the house.

Fireplace in Steve and Janet Thomas' house after the fire“It’s amazing how your life can change in a few moments. We pretty much got wiped out. I got one little pile of clothes out before the fire department came.

What the fire and the smoke didn’t damage got ruined by water. It took them almost four hours to get the fire out.

But I feel really blessed. The community of musicians here have been bending over backwards to help. I can’t pretend that I’m in this alone.”

For the moment, Steve and Janet are staying with their next door neighbors, and another friend is preparing a small property where they can live until they get settled.

They will be working on damage assessments over the next few days. As you might imagine, they were unable to find an insurance adjuster to come out on New Year’s day, but that process will soon be underway.

Steve is also a respected studio engineer and producer, and keeps a small studio in the house. Though he tracks primarily in larger studios, he happened to have the hard drive with upcoming projects from Phil Leadbetter and Irene Kelly with him at home.

Burned out wall at Steve and Janet Thomas' house“I grabbed that right quick. We covered the console with plastic, but don’t know yet how it did in the fire. All of my microphones are probably ruined by water. All that is up in the air.

But I feel pretty lucky. There’ll be no drag in my work schedule. It’s nice to be able to bring tracks home and throw up a mix, but I can deal with not having that.”

Steve has a positive attitude about getting back on their feet, but they have a long way to go having lost nearly all of their possessions. Friends are helping out where they can, but income is sparse during the winter months for working musicians.

There are loose plans being made now to host a benefit concert in Nashville, and a recovery fund has been set up to help with near term expenses. Donations can be accepted by major credit cards or PayPal using the button below.


All funds received go directly to Steve and Janet.

We’ll post with further details as benefit concert details are announced.

Share this:

About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.