b. October 14th, 1926 in Eden (Mississippi)

d. June 26th, 1993 in Greenville (Mississippi)

THE BLUES ARE ALIVE AND WELL

Xtra

BLUES FROM THE DELTA

Saydisc - Matchbox

BOTHERED ALL THE TIME

Southern Culture

July 1968

Né dans une ferme, James pratique la guitare depuis l'enfance et découvre la musique en écoutant la radio. Il travaille dans les champs mais commence à se produire avec son ami Percy Lee dès la fin des années 40. En 1961, James s'installe à Leland (sur Lewis Street) avec sa femme et ses six enfants et travaille comme fossoyeur. Influencé par Elmore James et Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, il continue son activité de musicien dans les juke-joints de la région de Leland et Greenville tout en exerçant son autre passion : la sculpture. Découvert par William Ferris en 1967, James trouve l'opportunité de graver ses premières faces chez lui à Leland quelques mois plus tard. Celles-ci paraitront sur diverses anthologies. Ferris s'interessera beaucoup à James Thomas au travers de son livre "Blues from the Delta" et de ses films documentaires ("Mississippi delta blues", "James Son Thomas : Delta blues singer"). Grâce à Ferris, il gagne une certaine notoriété qui lui permet de lancer une carrière musicale. Quelques superbes morceaux ont vu le jour lors de ces séances : "Crawling kingsnake", "Beefsteack blues", "Cairo blues", "Rock me momma" parmi d'autres. On découvre alors ce guitariste au jeu dans le plus pur style du Delta et surtout remarquable chanteur. Dans la foulée, il participe au Memphis Blues Festival.

Born in a farm, James has been playing guitar since childhood and discovers music while listening to the radio. He worked in the fields but began performing with his friend Percy Lee in the late 1940's. In 1961, James moved to Leland (on Lewis Street) with his wife and six children and worked as a gravedigger. Influenced by Elmore James and Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, he continues his music business in the Leland and Greenville area juke joints while exerting his other passion : sculpture. Discovered by William Ferris in 1967, James finds the opportunity to record his first sides at his home in Leland a few months later. These will appear on various anthologies. Ferris will be very interested in James Thomas through his book "Blues from the Delta" and his documentary films ("Mississippi delta blues", "James Son Thomas : Delta blues singer"). Thanks to Ferris, he gains a certain notoriety which allows him to launch a musical career. Some great songs came out during these sessions : "Crawling kingsnake", "Beefsteack blues", "Cairo blues", "Rock me momma" among others. We discover then this guitarist with a pure Delta playing style and especially a remarkable singer. In the process, he participated in the Memphis Blues Festival.

HIGHWAY 61 BLUES

Southern Culture

May 1969 / June 1979 - June 1982

Constitué de plusieurs séances différentes captées par William Ferris, Danny Wildman, Frank Fourny ou Ray Allen, ce recueil offre un panorama parfait de l'oeuvre de James "Son" Thomas. Son Blues évocateur et passionné est à son meilleur sur "Bottle up and go", "Beefsteack blues", "Rock me mama", "Highway 61 blues", "Must have been the devil", "Sonny Ford shuffle". Un programme remarquable et intense.

Consisting of several different sessions captured by William Ferris, Danny Wildman, Frank Fourny or Ray Allen, this collection offers a perfect overview of the work of James "Son" Thomas. His evocative and passionate Blues is at his best on "Bottle up and go", "Beefsteack blues", "Rock me mama", "Highway 61 blues", "Must have been the devil", "Sonny Ford shuffle". A remarkable and intense program.

MISSISSIPPI FOLK VOICES

Southern Folklore

Southern Culture

May 1972

GIANTS OF COUNTRY BLUES GUITAR vol.2

Wolf

July 1975 / June - November 1981

On trouve dans cette anthologie Wolf : un titre de juillet 1975 capté par Christopher Steffi et Hannes Folterbauer puis 5 morceaux provenant de séances de juin et novembre 1981 enregistrées respectivement par Ulrich Hahn et Michael Hortig. Un ensemble de six titres sympathiques gravés avec les moyens du bord (on peut entendre un chien aboyer sur "Shake 'em on down").

In this Wolf anthology : a title of july 1975 captured by Christopher Steffi and Hannes Folterbauer then 5 tracks coming from june and november 1981 sessions respectively recorded by Ulrich Hahn and Michael Hortig. A set of six nice songs engraved with the means at disposal (we can hear a dog barking on "Shake 'em on down").

MISSISSIPPI DELTA & SOUTH TENNESSEE BLUES

I GOT THE BLUES THIS MORNING

ORIGINAL COUNTRY BLUES vol.2

Albatros

BLUES AT HOME vol.10

Mbirafon

August 1976 - 1982

Entre 1976 et 1982, James fut substantiellement enregistré par les italiens Gianni Marcucci et Vincenzo Castella. Des enregistrements de terrain qui présentent James seul et parfois associé à Eddie Cusic (ou Eddie Quesie) ou à son oncle Joe Cooper. On peut entendre de très bons moments comme "Little red car", "61 highway blues", "Catfish blues", "Cairo blues", "Big fat mama". Certains titres furent dispersés sur des anthologies Albatros mais l'édition du CD "Blues at home vol.10" permet de découvrir plus en profondeur cette oeuvre attachante.

Between 1976 and 1982, James was substantially recorded by italians Gianni Marcucci and Vincenzo Castella. Field recordings that present James alone and sometimes associated with Eddie Cusic (or Eddie Quesie) or his uncle Joe Cooper. We can hear great moments like "Little red car", "61 highway blues", "Catfish blues", "Cairo blues", "Big fat mama". Some titles were scattered on Albatros anthologies but the edition of the CD "Blues at home vol.10" allows to discover more in depth this endearing work.

THE INTRODUCTION TO LIVING COUNTRY BLUES U.S.A

LIVING COUNTRY BLUES U.S.A vol.2, 5, 9 & 10

L+R

Bellaphon

October - November 1980

Enregistrements de terrain réalisés à la fin de l'année 1980 par les allemands Siegfried Christmann et Axel Kustner. James "Son" Thomas fit partie des bluesmen enregistrés pendant leur voyage. On trouve quelques morceaux tout à fait notables : "Bull cow blues", "Mean ol' Frisco" (avec Cleveland "Broomman" Jones), une longue version de "Catfish blues", "Beefsteack blues". Les morceaux gravés par James furent publiés dans cinq volumes de la collection "Living Country Blues USA" proposée par L+R.

Field recordings made at the end of 1980 by the germans Siegfried Christmann and Axel Kustner. James "Son" Thomas was one of the bluesmen recorded during their trip. There are some quite notable songs : "Bull cow blues", "Mean ol' Frisco" (with Cleveland "Broomman" Jones), a long version of "Catfish blues", "Beefsteack blues". The tracks cut by James were published in five volumes of the "Living Country Blues USA" collection proposed by L+R.

THE JAMES "SON" THOMAS ALBUM

L+R

Bellaphon

October - November 1980 / November 1982

BEEFSTEACK BLUES

Evidence

October - November 1980 / November 1982 / October 1985

Essentiellement composé de titres live provenant de la tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival 1982 en Allemagne, James se montre en forme, délivrant son répertoire habituel avec conviction. Peu original mais très sympathique.

Essentially composed of live tracks from the 1982 American Folk Blues Festival tour in Germany, James is in good shape, delivering his usual repertoire with conviction. Nice but not very original.

PLAYS AND SINGS DELTA BLUES CLASSICS

Swingmaster

MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES MAN

Swingmaster

May 1981

Lors de sa première tournée européenne en mai 1981, James put graver cet album aux Pays Bas grâce à Leo Bruin. Une séance au son clair montrant un bluesman inspiré et passionné : "High brown", "Devil blues", "Cool water blues", "Lonesome road blues", "Hard time blues", "Black rat". D'après la Blues Discography, beaucoup d'autres titres - restés malheureusement inédits - furent enregistrés lors de cette séance.

During his first european tour in may 1981, James was able to cut this album in Netherlands thanks to Leo Bruin. A clear sound session showing an inspired and passionate bluesman : "High brown", "Devil blues", "Cool water blues", "Lonesome road blues", "Hard time blues", "Black rat". According to Blues Discography, many other titles - unfortunately unissued - were recorded during this session.

SON DOWN ON THE DELTA

Flying High

August 1981

Disque live capté dans deux clubs de Fort Worth (Texas). La qualité sonore est vraiment excellente et James en pleine forme. Il livre de belles versions de "Highway 61 blues", "Steel guitar rag", "Bottle it up and go", "Mean old Frisco".

Live album captured in two clubs in Fort Worth, Texas. The sound quality is really excellent and James in great shape. He delivers beautiful versions of "Highway 61 blues", "Steel guitar rag", "Bottle it up and go", "Mean old Frisco".

GIANTS OF COUNTRY BLUES vol.3

Wolf

November 1981

AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL '82

Amiga

November 1982

BLUES LIVE '82

L+R

November 1982

James "Son" Thomas est invité à la tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival 1982. Sur les scènes allemandes, il délivre ses Blues habituels ("Beeftsteack blues", "Catfish blues") avec conviction et application.

James "Son" Thomas is invited to the 1982 American Folk Blues Festival tour. On german stages, he delivers his usual Blues ("Beeftsteack blues", "Catfish blues") with conviction and application.

MISSISSIPPI DELTA BLUES ALBUM

Mid South

September 1983

NATIONAL DOWN HOME BLUES FESTIVAL vol.4 (lp) / vol.2 (cd)

Southland

October 1984

James est invité à se produire sur scène lors de ce festival organisé par George Mitchell. Sur ce recueil proposé par Southland, on l'entend jouer "Roll and tumble".

James is invited to perform on stage at this festival organized by George Mitchell. In this collection proposed by Southland, we hear him play "Roll and tumble".

AMERICAN FOLK BLUES FESTIVAL '85

L+R

Bellaphon

BEEFSTEACK BLUES

Evidence

October 1985

De nouveau invité pour la dernière tournée de l'American Folk Blues Festival, James interprète ici une bonne version de "Smokey Mountain blues".

Once again invited for the last tour of the American Folk Blues Festival, James plays a good version of "Smokey Mountain blues" here.

GOOD MORNING LITTLE SCHOOLGIRL

Black & Blue

HARD TIMES

Black & Blue

March 1986

Lors d'une nouvelle venue en Europe, James grave cet album en France à Paris seul avec sa guitare. Le programme est plaisant ("Nelson Street blues", "Hard times") mais légèrement monotone par instant. La version CD ajoute deux titres inédits ainsi que les morceaux de James "Son" Thomas issus de son disque suivant "Mississippi Blues Festival '86".

During another venue in Europe, James records this album in France in Paris alone with his guitar. The program is pleasant ("Nelson Street blues", "Hard times") but slightly monotonous sometimes. The CD version adds two new tracks as well as the tracks of James "Son" Thomas from his next album "Mississippi Blues Festival '86".

MISSISSIPPI BLUES FESTIVAL '86

Black & Blue

HARD TIMES

Black & Blue

March 1986

On trouve ici 4 morceaux issus de la même séance que "Good morning little schoolgirl" et repris dans le CD "Hard times".

Here are 4 songs from the same session as "Good morning little schoolgirl" and included in the CD "Hard times".

GATEWAY TO THE DELTA

Rustron

December 1986 - November 1987

Dans ce disque produit par Sylvester Oliver Jr, James est associé à l'harmoniciste suisse Walter Liniger. Les deux musiciens se complètent bien et proposent un bon disque de Delta Blues : "I love the way she walks", "Rock me", "I walked all night long", "Cool black mare". Une moitié du disque est gravée au Rust College d'Holly Springs, l'autre au domicile de James & Maggie Rouster à Eden.

In this CD produced by Sylvester Oliver Jr, James is associated with swiss harmonicist Walter Liniger. The two musicians complement each other well and offer a good Delta Blues record : "I love the way she walks", "Rock me", "I walked all night long", "Cool black mare". One half of the album is engraved at Rust College in Holly Springs, the other half at James & Maggie Rouster in Eden.

BOTTOMLANDS

Rooster (only on cassette)

P-Vine

October 1989

Nouvelle association avec l'harmoniciste Walter Liniger pour une tranche de Delta Blues brut et passionné : "Big boss man", "Lady Lee", "Catfish blues", "Train I ride". D'abord publié sous l'unique forme d'une cassette par Rooster, cette très belle séance fut rééditée par le label japonais P-Vine. Durant toute sa vie, James connut de nombreux problèmes de santé. En 1991, il a été opéré pour une tumeur cérébrale et cessa progressivement ses activités musicales. Il décède d'une attaque cardiaque à l'hopital de Greenville. Son fils Pat Thomas est également musicien.

New association with harmonicist Walter Liniger for a slice of raw and passionate Delta Blues : "Big boss man", "Lady Lee", "Catfish blues", "Train I ride". First issued in the form of a cassette by Rooster, this beautiful session was reissued by the japanese label P-Vine. Throughout his life James had many health problems. In 1991, he was operated on for a tumor and gradually stopped his musical activities. He dies of a heart attack at Greenville hospital. His son Pat Thomas is also a musician.