Songs from Loafer's Glory
by John Thomsen & Friends
In commemoration of his 80th year, Limberlost Press has released a CD by longtime Idaho folk musician John Thomsen, of Idaho City, featuring an impressive list of musicians from the region backing up their musical mentor, friend, and collaborator.
John Thomsen & Friends: Songs from Loafer’s Glory features an array of favorites by Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Roger Miller, Tex Ritter, Sean McCarthy, and others, as well as a couple of Thomsen originals. Despite decades of making music at folk festivals, weddings, birthdays, political events, plays, dances, funerals, and backyard barbecues, Songs from Loafer’s Glory is Thomsen’s first CD. “I’ve marveled at Johnny’s stamina, repertoire, musicianship, humor, social conscience, and wordsmithing,” says fiddle player and longtime Mores Creek String Band collaborator Dave Daley. “Johnny has set the bar for being an authentic folk treasure. I am very fortunate to have had so many great times with ‘the Golden Voice of the Boise Basin.’”
Boise resident, veteran musician, and lap steel guitar artist Jake Hoffman concurs. “I have never failed to be impressed by his repertoire and his abilities on guitar, concertina, and Dobro. He was, and is, the complete folklorist and musician. His wit and sense of humor are unmatched.”
Recorded by Sam Aarons of Idaho City Sound over several daylong sessions, the long overdue recording offers a sampling of Thomsen’s musical versatility. “Johnny is a walking library of songs,” says Idaho City resident and fellow folk musician Beth Wilson. “He knows so many verses and choruses and the stories that go with them that he has to keep his interest by rewriting some with words most clever and slightly scandalous . . . I've been honored to play along, harmonizing on the fly.”
The CD, which includes a colorful booklet of photos and tributes by admirers, features Thomsen’s own “Idaho Spud,” a bitingly satirical song-story about nuclear waste, the Atomic Energy Commission, and raising kids on “nuclear taters.”
Limberlost Press publisher Rick Ardinger likens the recording to the work of Smithsonian folk music preservationist Alan Lomax, who saved from obscurity so much American folk music during the 20th century.
“I don’t know why it took so long to get John to do any formal recordings,” Ardinger says. “For the sessions in Sam Aaron's studio, true to form, there was no rehearsing a set list of tunes in advance and no re-dos of anything if any of us screwed up,” Ardinger said. “So the collection has that ‘live’ feeling. When John began a song, we did our best to find his key and rhythm, and any musical flourishes or embellishments were spontaneous, improvised, or accidental. The result was a joyful magic.”
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