Based at Hawaii…
Allan Thomas’ music adventure began in Brooklyn NY when, at age 12, he joined an A Cappella vocal group, performing at school dances, concerts, and parties. At age 17, he sat in with touring R&B horn-section cover bands at New York City’s Wagon Wheel and Peppermint Lounge clubs. Soon after, he signed his first record deal with noted producer Huey P. Meaux who released Allan’s first single on Scepter Records. At age nineteen, Thomas, now a fledgling guitarist/songwriter appeared on the coffee house circuit, first in New York’s Greenwich Village and then throughout Tennessee, Colorado, Oregon, and California.
Sire Records released Allan’s first album of original songs entitled “A Picture” in 1971. The record garnered enough sufficient critical attention in the music world to open some new doors and Thomas soon began opening across the country for acts like The Cannonball Adderley Quintet, Weather Report, The Marc Almond Band, and Livingston Taylor. In ‘72, Thomas was invited to improvise vocals on the Cannonball Adderley Quintet song ‘Behold’ which appeared on their ‘Soul of the Bible’ album featuring Nat Adderley, Aierto, and George Duke. Following that effort, Thomas did improvisational singing with the quintet at the Troubadour and Lighthouse clubs in Southern California.
With subsequent European travels, Thomas teamed up with vocalist Carole Cook, and performed throughout England and Denmark. Returning to the States, the duo decided to marry and settle in Malibu, California where they wrote, recorded, and performed together, often singing back-up vocals for other artists. From 1977 to 1978 they were staff songwriters for ABC Music in LA.
The couple’s marital relationship ended in 1979, but that same year, Thomas formed the Santa Monica Bay Band with a group of topnotch LA area studio and live players. Despite their talent and local appeal however, the band failed to win a studio contract. In ‘83, discouraged over the LA rat race and needing new inspiration, Thomas moved to the Hawaiian Islands. It is there where he developed the new blend of music heard on his next two records.
Thomas’ music, described by the artist himself as a modern amalgam of R&B, Rock, Blues and Jazz, first gained attention in Hawaii when the well-known Beamer Brothers recorded his song ‘You Take my Breath Away’ on their ‘Island Nights’ album. The spotlight focused on his vocal talent next when Brian Kessler, now living in Oahu, wrote and produced the award-winning ‘Local Motion’ jingles using Thomas as his lead singer. In ‘89, Allan Thomas contacted producer Stephen Barncard and over the next year they created the album “The Island”. The CD, which was released on Thomas’ own label, Black Bamboo Recordings, is a collection of Thomas’ original tunes written and recorded during 1989-1990. Not surprisingly, much of the album draws its inspiration from the beauty and tranquility of the Hawaiian Islands, according to Thomas. He adds, “A number of the songs are concerned with other themes like a world spinning out of control, steamy secret affairs, windsurfing the magnificent waves of Northwest Hawaii and visions of global brotherhood.” The album features an impressive array of vocal, instrumental, and songwriting talents provided by Thomas and his collaborators.
In ‘96, Thomas released his third album “Coconut Culture”, which departed from the jazz/rock based format on the “The Island” and leaned more towards a traditional feel, reflecting his love for the indigenous music of his adopted islands. In Hawaii, the Hawaiian Style Band, The Beamer Brothers and Norman ‘Kaawa’ Solomon, among others, have covered Allan’s songs. In ’99, two of the songs from Coconut Culture – ‘I’ll Find You Yet’ and ‘Ka Wai Aloha’ – we’re used in the feature film ‘Beyond Paradise’, a Los Angeles production but filmed on the big island of Hawaii.
Allan Thomas produced and recorded Kauai artists Norman ‘Kaawa’ Solomon, and Darryl Gonzales’ solo contemporary Hawaiian albums in ’04, and also began pre-production on what would become his next solo record. In early ’05, Allan upgraded his recording studio and then rented the studio to Donald Fagen of Steely Dan, for work on his third solo album “Morph The Cat”. This would lead to Fagen winning the 2006 TEC award for Outstanding Creative Technical Achievement for the best record production, by the voters of Mix Magazine. Fagen and his engineer, the renowned Elliot Scheiner would also garner a Grammy for Best Surround-Sound album that same year.
At the end of that 7-week dream session, Donald asked AT to play rhythm guitar in a band he was putting together for a local event, which also featured Todd Rundgren, Toni Childs and Ken Emerson. Allan wound up also playing and singing with Rundgren on this event.
Thomas’ work with Fagen inspired him to get back to work on his own next solo record “Making Up For Lost Time”. “I spent almost two years working on that recording, but had a break in the process due to an injury which lead to a near-death infection, which I had to then recover from.”
On that recording, long-time AT collaborator Bryan Kessler played rhythm and lead guitar, with Michael Ruff on keyboards and slide guitarist extraordinaire Ken Emerson wove his particular magic on three tracks. New Kauai recruits included Kirk Smart on his DeTemple Telecaster guitar, mandolin and lap-steel and, fresh from Austin, featured also was harmonica virtuoso JP Allen. Renaissance music man/part-time goat herder and engineer Ron Pendragon recorded Chicago’s drummer Tris Imboden and also recorded Michael Ruff and Allan on backing vocals, along with Anjela Rose and C S & N’s amazing vocalist Graham Nash. The icing on the cake for AT was recording James Taylor’s bassist Jimmy Johnson at Snuffy Walden’s Studio in Los Angeles. The record was mixed and mastered by renowned mix-master Mike Shipley and his assistant Brian Wohlgemuth. Well-known rock photographer Jim Shea, now living on Kauai, photographed Allan for the album’s back and inside cover and surfer/artist Steven Valiere painted the CD’s jaw-dropping front cover art.
More information about Allan Thomas at his official website.
Two Sides To Every Story
Black Bamboo Recordings 2018
Tracks: 15 Minutes, Aquadesiac, Could´ve Been Worse, Dating Program, El Sueno De Repitido, Good To Go, If Only, In Search Of…., Is That Asking Too Much?!, Makani ´Olu ´Olu, On Another Note, Still Life, There Are No Words, Troubled Times & Geezer Talk (Baby Boomer Blues).
Musicians on the Two Sides To Every Story album: Allan Thomas and others.
Black Bamboo Records 2011
Tracks: Deep Water, Everything Happens For A Reason, The Longest Ride, Fall In Love Too Easy, Homegrown, Soldier Of Misfortune, The Gift, Boyish Man, The Downturn, Monkey Business, It All Comes Down To Love & Other Than That.
Musicians on the Deep Water album: Allan Thomas and others.
Brooklyn Boy In Paradise
Black Bamboo Records 2009
Tracks: The Gift, Rock The World, Lost In Your Touch, Fear Of Falling, Troubled Times, The Journey, Intimate Strangers, Soldier Of Misfortune, Bad Behavior, She´s Starlight, After The Storm, Need Your Love, Love Can Change Your World & Unlock Your Heart.
Musicians on the Brooklyn Boy In Paradise album: Allan Thomas, Bryan Kessler, David Anderson, Michael Ruff, Pete Wasner, Charles Judge, Chris Templeton, Armando Compean, Dave Inamine, Michael Buono & Diane Michelle.
Making Up For Lost Time
Black Bamboo Records 2007
Tracks: Ray Of Hope, Remember The Best, Old Dog New Trick, Rapture In The Rain, Laid Eyes On You, Butterfly Jesse, How Long `Til Light, The Real Thing, Leap Of Faith & Making Up For Lost Time.
Musicians on the Coconut Culture album: Allan Thomas, Graham Nash, Bryan Kessler, Michael Ruff, Kirk Smart, Ken Emerson, Jimmy Johnson, Tris Imboden, Anjela Rose & JP Allen.
Black Bamboo Records 1997
Tracks: Kai Mana, Coconut Culture, Navigator, Island Girl, Homeland, You Take My Breath Away, Ka Wai Aloha, Halfway’ Round The World, The Way Of the Heart, Everybody Gets The Blues & I’ll Find You Yet.
Musicians on the Coconut Culture album: Allan Thomas, Ken Emerson, Mike Shipley, Michael Ruff, Rick Avalon, Dave Inamine, Rick Rosas, Clif Hugo & Graham Nash.
Black Bamboo Records 1989
Tracks: The Island, Windrider, Yes Or No, Kindred Spirit, In My Automobile, Hold On Tightly, Across Blue Water, Our Little Secret, Love Or Something Like It & No Win Situation.
Musicians on the The Island album: Allan Thomas, Michael Ruff, Brian Kessler, Zeke Zirngiebel, Rich Schlosser, Russell Ferrante, Clif Hugo, Leslie Smith, Joe Turano, Nancy Shanks & Valerie Carter.