If you’re looking for a boisterous party with 200 of your newest best friends, Thomas Edwards and his band “Thomas” are your answer. Thomas has been a mainstay in the Peoria area for 15 years as the front man for Bubblegum Jack, the tri-county’s premier party band. Over the last two years, Thomas has been working with Nashville songwriter/musician Denny Smith to craft 14 new songs for an as-yet untitled album – with a self-described “Keith Urban meets The Killers vibe” to be released Late-2015.
It’s a far cry from the area nursing homes Thomas visited with his parents every Sunday growing up, singing and playing gospel songs for residents. There was always music – mostly classic country songs by artists like Johnny Cash and Hank Williams, though Thomas’ early commercial music was more characteristic of Queensryche and Journey. He’s played with music notables like Gary Richrath, Jeff Logsdon, Shandal Tassart, Bret Johnson, George Herbst and John Massaglia, among others. What’s remained constant for Thomas, across years and genres, is making a connection with the crowd.
“You have to let go of that ‘I’m too cool to look stupid’ attitude. It’s not about the songs or being the best musician…it’s about connecting with the audience,” says Thomas. While he takes inspiration from great vocalists like Steve Perry and Geoff Tate, he no longer worries about showing off his operatic pipes, instead focusing on the organic tie between the lyrics and the story behind the music.
Raising his family and working full-time led him to Quincy, IL, a move that was initially difficult for Thomas. He likens the Peoria-area music scene to a brotherhood. Ironically, leaving Peoria and taking time away from performing gave him time to focus on his own music and find his own voice.
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