That Old Familiar – David Thom

Besides being a regular correspondent for Bluegrass Today and a West Coast Bluegrass Ambassador, David Thom is also a performing artist who has released yet another fine album, That Old Familiar, on Swollen Records. Recorded at Lewietoons Studio in Berkeley, CA, this Laurie Lewis production is sure to please fans of traditional bluegrass.

Since its foundation in 1996, the California-based David Thom Band has released numerous projects. In fact, their latest effort is both a mixture of new material and songs taken from previous set lists that have been used by the group. The eleven song set includes three pieces from Thom’s own pen, as well as an interesting mixture of previously recorded tunes by other popular artists within the genre.

This version of the Emma Smith tune, Don’t Neglect The Rose (made popular by Larry Sparks), has a wonderfully sparse arrangement, proving that it’s not always what is played, but sometimes what isn’t, that makes a song work. Other somewhat obscure pieces like Kenny Baker’s Windy City and Allison Krauss’ Two Highways (written by Larry Cordle and performed here at a slightly slower tempo) have also been included. The record’s Gospel selection is the familiar sing-along song The Little White Church by Eugene Wellman.

David has chosen to dedicate That Old Familiar to the memory of Jon Mask, the founding mandolin player for the David Thom Band, and is joined by a fantastic cast of supporting musicians. Featuring a sort of California “Who’s Who,” Laurie Lewis has assembled a fine selection of pickers to perform on this project including Bill Evans, Tom Rozum, Mike Witcher, and Todd Phillips, just to name a few.

Thom’s talents of song writing, guitar playing, and singing are all on display throughout this 37 minute listing of tracks. In fact, the light and bouncy title track That Old Familiar, the instrumental Fifth Third, and the familiar-sounding song When I Hear Your Name are all songs which he has written. His melody-driven lead guitar playing shows up best in his kick-off to Windy City.

For more information regarding Thom’s music and to check his performance calendar, you can visit his band website at

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About the Author

John Curtis Goad

John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, with a Masters degree in both History and Appalachian Studies from ETSU.