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Steve Thomas: News

It's out! EXFOLIATE, the new CD/download from Steve Thomas & REAL INCOGNITO - September 27, 2015

It’s EXFOLIATE, the long-awaited (by me, at least) new album from Steve Thomas & REAL INCOGNITO.

Check out the goods:
Listen to whole-song samples. You’ll then, of course, need/want to purchase a CD or an album or song download. Go ahead! It’s right there. And after you do the right thing, please go back and write a review. After all, why keep all that good stuff to yourself?

C’mon, you know these guys: Steve Thomas (vocals/songs/arrangements); John Funkhouser (electric keys/backing vocals); Greg Loughman (electric bass/backing vocals); The Amazing Mike Connors (drums, percussion, wee bit of glockenspiel). And a guest vocal appearance by Karen Welling.

A completist? Search for SPIRITS PASSING THROUGH (Steve Thomas and the Co-Conspirators) and GOT THE MAP (Steve Thomas).

Steve & REAL INCOGNITO at Outpost 186 3/29/15 - April 3, 2015

Back at our home away from home, we kicked up our heels at Outpost 186 last weekend. See PHOTOS for the incriminating evidence. Also see our Facebook page for some video verite: Check out Karen in her infamous zebra skirt; kinda classes up the bandstand, don't ya think?

Steve & REAL INCOGNITO at Blue in Portland - February 9, 2015

The Incogs and I had a great time playing Blue in Portland, Maine, on Jan. 31—a little window of opportunity before The Big Snow returned. Blue's a very cool little club in downtown Portland. Definitely worth checking out. You can check out some photos of the gig in Photos, and photos/video on Facebook:

Steve Thomas & REAL INCOGNITO CD in the works! - October 8, 2014

The last weekend in September, the Incogs and I wrapped our recording sessions for the new CD, with the fabulous Warren Amerman of Rotary Records at the control board. A wonderful place to record, and Warren has big ears (and a sly sense of humor . . . but let's not get into that here). John, Greg, Mike, and I were VERY happy campers. Had to pause from time to time to extinguish spontaneous combustions that erupted from the smokin' hot tracks. Know'm sayin?

Mixing, mastering, etc. still lie ahead.

I'll get some pix of the sessions up in the Photo section of the site.

Steve Thomas & REAL INCOGNITO @ Somerville Porchfest - May 21, 2014

Steve & REAL INCOGNITO had a fabulous time playing Somerville, MA's Porchfest last Saturday. Weather was iffy up till early morning, and then the rain miraculously gave way to an absolutely gorgeous day. Karen and I had our very own PORCHAPALOOZA! in our side yard on Henderson St.:

Mambo Doble, K's Latin/Brazilian band
Greg Loughman's Lowman

(Check out the scene in PHOTO GALLERY.)

Yeah, by the end people were waving their lighters in the air and hollering "Free Bird!" (Well, they woulda been if it hadn't been midafternoon on a beautiful day.) Lots of strolling passersby, neighbors hangin' across the street, kids running around, old pals stopping by . . . and some pretty cool music by all of the above. Plus some tasty nosh laid out by Karen on the back deck. Pretty much heaven, as I imagine it.

Maybe we'll see you all next year?

Holy cow! It's REAL INCOGNITO at Outpost 186 - January 29, 2014

The Incogs and I had a wonderful birthday gig (yours truly) at Outpost 186 in Inman Square, Cambridge, MA on January 18. Wander over to PHOTO GALLERY and you'll see a couple pix. We played great IMHO, and the assembled throng even sang me "Happy Birthday" (at my wife's instigation). Threw in some vocal harmonies too — although that may have been because I hollered partway through the rendition, "How 'bout some harmony?" Greg and John instantly supplied same. See what happens when you hang with musicians?

Our next Outpost gig is Saturday afternoon, March 15 at 3:30. Hope to see your smiling faces.

more REAL INCOGNITO (not available in stores) - July 22, 2013

REAL INCOGNITO gives us jazzbos an opportunity to rummage around in some nonjazz idioms we love, in the guise of an electric rock band. Reggae, ‘60s soul, Balkan odd meters, N. African gnawa, etc. Tunes include oblique tributes to heroes Robert Frank and Paul Motian, skewed reflections on dental and skin care, and the loneliness of the 3-toed sloth.

We liked our Outpost 186 gig in June so much we're gonna try to do a semi-regular every-other-month thing there. Get in on the ground floor, people. You know this band is gonna blow up! See us while we're still our normal selves.

Catch STEVE THOMAS & REAL INCOGNITO at OUTPOST 186 in Cambridge, MA, Tuesday, August 6 @ 8:00 p.m.

Steve Thomas (vocals/tunes)
John Funkhouser (electric keys)
Mike Connors (drums/percussion/glockenspiel)
Greg Loughman (electric bass)

Check out the Calendar section for deets.

REAL INCOGNITO - June 2, 2013

Yep, that's what it often feels like when you play original music. ("Steve who . . . ?") REAL INCOGNITO is a project I've been working on off-and-on since 2010 when electric bass pal David Vermette and I started running some of my new tunes together. Dave and I did a jazz jam at Acton Jazz Cafe the summer of 2010, and then an opening set, with John Funkhouser (keys) and Mike Connors (drums), at Amazing Things Arts Center in Natick in March 2011.

REAL INCOGNITO gives us jazzbos an opportunity to rummage around in some nonjazz idioms we love, in the guise of an electric pop band. Reggae, ‘60s soul, Balkan odd meters, N. African gnawa, yadda yadda yadda. Tunes include oblique tributes to heroes Robert Frank and Paul Motian, skewed reflections on dental and skin care, and selections from the TBI/TBD Suite.

Now, like A. Schwarzenegger, we're back.

Catch STEVE THOMAS & REAL INCOGNITO at OUTPOST 186 in Cambridge, MA, Monday, June 24, 8:00 p.m.

Steve Thomas (vocals/tunes)
John Funkhouser (electric keys)
Mike Connors (drums/percussion/glockenspiel)
Greg Loughman (electric bass)

Check out our Calendar section for deets.

Steve & the Cohorts at Wellesley Free Library - August 7, 2008

Sometimes setbacks can turn into . . . what? Advances? Co-Conspirators vibes player Rich can't make our upcoming gig at Wellesley Free Library on Sept. 21. So instead of a Co-Cons gig, it's now Steve & Cohorts.

I'll be mixing it up with Co-Conspirators bandmates John Funkhouser (piano, bass) and Gary Fieldman (drums) in various duo and trio configurations. We'll do jazz compositions by me, Wayne Shorter, Lee Konitz, Monk, and others. It gives us a chance to stretch out a little on some things we wouldn't do with the Co-Cons. We may even unleash John on reggae melodica! I've played with John a lot, but always in his bass-player mode. This'll be our vocal/piano duo debut. Lookin' forward to it.

Check the Calendar section for details on the gig. Sunday, Sept. 21, 2:00 at Wellesley Free Library.

Steve & the Co-Cons Online - June 9, 2008

Last month the Co-Conspirators and I played a fun show at The Nave Gallery in Somerville, as part of Somerville Open Studios and Boston Jazz Week. And the performance was recorded for a podcast, which is now up and running. Due to copyright stuff, we could put out only my original tunes. To hear our takes on Ornette, Miles, Wayne, and others, you'll just have to come to a gig!

Many thanks to Randy Winchester at The Nave Gallery for recording and putting us online -- and for being a generally good guy.

Here's the link. The live sound's a little boomy, but here we are:

Jazz Matinee at The Lily Pad - September 27, 2007

The Co-Conspirators and I are playing our first all-ages, daylight gig on Sunday, Oct. 14, at The Lily Pad, pride of Inman Square in Cambridge, MA. (Click on the Calendar section for details.) Grab a late brunch at S&S Deli. Then sprint across the street (don't forget to look both ways!) and join us for a 3:00 start time. We'll do two sets--a buncha tunes from SPIRITS PASSING THROUGH, plus some new pieces, including arrangements of Steve Lacy and Wayne Shorter comps.

Our mighty bass player, John Funkhouser, can't make the gig, so intrepid electric bassist Dave Vermette is pinch-hitting. Should be cool to hear an electric bass in our music, since--as Dave points out--a lot of the bass lines are electric-basslike already.

Hope to see ya at Lily Pad. And keep your eyes peeled for a double-header week in November: me and Ben Schwendener at Taylor House in Jamaica Plain on the 14th; me and the Co-Cons at Third Life Studio in Somerville on the 18th.

Ben and me - March 30, 2007

Hey, get out your date books. I'm doing a gig Sunday afternoon, April 22, with my old pal (and honorary Co-Conspirator) Ben Schwendener, on piano, at an opening reception for Somerville Open Studios. (Click on Calendar for details.) Ben's a wonderful composer, pianist, and bandleader who's just released three books of his piano music for children. And included with each book is a CD of improvised performances of the pieces by his trio. Very cool stuff. (Visit

Ben's also my long-time teacher, and he played piano on, engineered, and nurtured my first CD, GOT THE MAP. He also played in a first version of the Co-Conspirators, with John on bass and Mike Connors on drums.

Stop by and catch us on April 22, and check out some cool visual art too. Ben and I will do some songs from that first CD, plus a few new things. Hope to see ya. The price is right: FREE.

Thanks, folks! - February 12, 2007

To those of you who turned out for our CD-release gigs for SPIRITS PASSING THROUGH, thanks a bunch. And for those who bought copies of the CD, extra credit. The Co-Cons and I had a blast.

We started off at Rutman's Violins, our home away from home, on Thursday, Feb. 8. Then split a wonderful gig with Jerry Sabatini & the Sonic Explorers the next night at Acton Jazz Cafe, best small jazz club in the universe. And then wrapped our "tourito" with a nice, cool, multi-age crowd on Sunday afternoon at Wellesley Free Library.

Ah what a difference playing together a few nights in a row makes! By Sunday afternoon we were ready to take the world by storm. But stay tuned. Steve and the Co-Cons will be coming to a venue near you any month now.

And while I'm at it: mucho thanks to Tyra Penn and the folks at WICN 90.5 FM in Worcester for having me in for an interview and to play cuts from SPIRITS PASSING THROUGH on Jazz New England on Wed., Feb 7. Very nice vibe there. And Tyra, you're the coolest (most stylishly turned out) DJ ever.

The CD is finally out! - October 30, 2006

Whew! SPIRITS PASSING THROUGH is finally out in the world. A lotta work, and a crash course in the workings of the music biz (singers, do not EVER write new lyrics for someone else's jazz tune and then record it without getting permission first, unless you have a taste for endless phone calls, e-mails, and frustration). But now, having emerged from the other end of the tunnel, I have to say it's been worth it.

I’ve always wanted a band, and with the Co-Conspirators I’ve finally got one. I’m not a traditional singer-songwriter; I’m a jazz vocalist and composer, so I wanted to hear my songs in the context of a real, live, improvising jazz ensemble, with all the resources that that implies. I wanted us to play ON the songs, the way jazz musicians do, so that they’d open up in performance and really fly. And I wanted to use vibraphone, in place of the usual piano. There’s more air in the ensemble that way and more clarity. Everyone has his own frequency range to operate in, and you can hear the individual lines better.

I wanted the feeling of a real ensemble, not just a singer backed by a rhythm section. So the recording sessions for SPIRITS PASSING THROUGH, and the rehearsals and gigs before them, were big steps on the journey that transforms a few guys playing one guy's songs into a band, something way bigger than the sum of its parts. We can go from spare lyricism to a big hollering galumphing band improv and back again in the space of one song ("Time/Space") or nail a funky New Orleans second-line groove in a song that's really about, well, death ("Beads"). We're playing my songs and my arrangements of other jazz songs I admire, but as the vocalist in the band I have to hold up my end of things. John, Rich, and Gary are great players--much in demand--and leaders of their own bands. They keep me on my toes. Which is how it should be.

The songs and my arrangements draw on all the kinds of music I‘m attracted to, not just jazz. But that’s what jazz musicians always do. Besides the Brazilian and New Orleans influences, there's a nod to old-school Muscle Shoals soul (“By the Factory Wall”). And “So Cold” recasts a Wayne Shorter tune with a funk bass/drum rhythm and a lyric that comes right out of an Appalachian death ballad. But when we PLAY these songs, we still operate like a jazz band. Improvising, ensemble flow, building up a head of steam, swing: those are the things that are important to us as musicians and as a band.

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