TOMMY THOMSEN— Western Swing singer, piano pounder, guitar picker extraordinaire– grew up in Sonoma, California, at a time when small town values were still a way of life in the Valley of the Moon. As a child, his first instrument was the piano. He studied the classics and worked his way up to performing Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody at his last recital. After his mother, Jean (aka “Big Red,”) taught him to play a mean Boogie Woogie, he segued into all things Americana. He leapt from Liszt to Jimmy Reed’s You Got Me Runnin’ and never looked back. As a teen, he took up guitar and began his first Professional band, “The Headsman,” incorporating Texas Blues and Rock ‘n Roll classics.
He went on to play Blues Rock with Sammy Hager, Americana with Norton Buffalo, and Blue Grass with Rose Maddox. He became hooked on Western Swing and the works of Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, and Ray Price, etc. By seeking out the greats, he developed relationships with many of the original Texas Playboys. His cowboy band went on to appear at many of the popular clubs around Texas, Idaho, and Nevada including the Nugget and Reno’s MGM Grand.
“In every musical era there are musicians who fame is drawn as much on the musicians they bring along with them as for their own talent… Add to that list Tommy Thomsen and whatever band he’s bringing to your town at any given time… [He] plays a lively honky tonk piano and extraordinary guitar to accompany his soulful singing… One critic once referred to Tommy’s traveling aggregation as a ‘Hillbilly backyard barbecue band’—a description that Thomsen considers an appellation.”
–Travis T. Hipp, Comstock Chronicle, Nevada.
In 1995 in a ceremony attended by many former Texas Playboys and professional musicians, Tommy Thomsen was honored by being inducted into the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in Sacramento. Subsequent awards include Pioneers of Western Swing Hall of Fame in Seattle and the Western Swing Society of the Southwest in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tommy toured extensively throughout the world–including, France, Italy, Denmark, and Japan. He has become a home town legend and enjoys volunteering for local charities—such as, American Cancer Society and American Liver Foundation, Sonoma Valley Hospital, Hospice Work and various benefits for local people in need.
“Among the performers at the Annual Sonoma City Party with Tommy Thomsen… was 90-year-old Johnny Cuviello (“The Texas Drummer Boy”,) who played with Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys… The party attracted an estimated 3,500 people.”
“Tommy’s Birthday Gift to Glen Ellen”
“Sometimes the confluence of unrelated events melds so well, that it can’t help but bring joy. Such was the atmosphere at Olive and Vine Restaurant in Glen Ellen a couple of Sundays ago. The Leo moon above shone its benevolence upon our town, the weather was temperate and a blessed relief from the cold, and a birthday celebration erupted with energy.
Happy Birthday to hometown sensation Tommy Thomsen…His hometown celebrated in a style befitting the legend that Tommy is. [He] is a charismatic entertainer pounding out a lively honky tonk rag, serenading us with his down-home, homespun songs and encouraging his fellow musicians to perform their best. He’s both a beloved ringleader and a star, and the folks of Glen Ellen love him.
[The] affection and enthusiasm of his friends and neighbors was evident at his birthday celebration as folks swarmed the history hall at Jack London Village waiting to enter the show. The first hundred plus made it into the restaurant. I rounded off that number fairly low in deference to Tommy’s mid-music plea to not tell the fire chief how many good folks were celebrating with him.
And, Wow! How thrilling to be up front when Tommy picked up his guitar and began the show. It was rockin’ good and more than worth the wait. Tommy’s gift on his birthday was our pleasure. Tommy isn’t merely a great performer, he gathered the best folks to help him entertain, and they all have more fun than ought to be legal in our town. His charming magic is worthy of an Orphean myth, which Tommy’s life sort of is… [T]he whole crew, including birthday boy Tommy, had us swinging and jumping, dancing in our seats… All in all an evening of music I’ll never forget.”
–Sylvia Crawford, Sonoma Index Tribune, March 2013
“Tommy Thomsen is the best in the business. He’s just a pro. That’s it. And his energy is contagious. His band is second to none. We love it when he plays at our place. He always raises the roof!”
— Catherine Venturini & John Brudick, owners Olive & Vine Restaurant, Glen Ellen, Calif.