Since his 1973 hit “Painted Ladies”, Hamilton native Ian Thomas has added impressive achievements to his repertoire.
The JUNO Award-winning singer-songwriter has earned four SOCAN classic awards, a UNICEF Danny Kaye Humanitarian award and Gemini nominations. With 15 albums under his belt, Ian is the founder of The Boomers and tours the country with the band, Lunch at Allen’s.
Prior to his debut album, Ian was a member of the rock band, Tranquility Base, the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra‘s residence pop group from 1970-1971. He debuted Long Long Way, his second album, in May of 1974 with 40 members from the HPO. Coming full circle, Ian will now perform A Life in Song, his latest album, with the HPO on October 17.
We chatted with Ian Thomas about premiering his latest work with a live orchestra and his feelings toward Hamilton.
You have written film scores, novels, screenplays, and albums. What type of writing do you find most satisfying?
Scores, books and songs all hold my attention but the song is such a tight little package of melody, harmonic and lyrical emotion – it wins. It is the most interactive in the process of creation.
What has been one of your most memorable albums to work on?
Hmmm. Different ones in different times. Little Dreams (2012) is the most unaffected one and pretty much a statement of my sentiments at 62. That being said there are songs on each album of mine that have done that from the get go.
How do you feel about coming back to Hamilton to perform with the HPO and debut your latest work at the same time? Are you looking forward to performing one piece in particular?
Most of the songs have been re-imagined. I like different things about different songs. Somehow they’re all like my kids. I love ’em for their differences.
What has it been like working with composer and saxophonist Darcy Hepner who will be conducting this performance?
Darcy is such a good man, a delight to work with and a seriously good musician – capable of going in almost any direction you can imagine. His council has been invaluable on this project, his arranging smarts are fab, and we actually by accident banged our heads together on a wonderful version of Painted Ladies that wreaks of the both of us. We got our wires crossed – He didn’t know I was working on an arrangement of it, and I didn’t know he was doing the same. We took the best of both cobbled it together and love it.
Your work has taken you to magical places like Prague, London, and Los Angeles. What is special about Hamilton?
The Hamilton area has always been home. I have some of my best friends and musical comrades in arms right here in this town. The Hamilton Philharmonic got me interested in orchestra when I was 19 and a member of my first band Tranquillity Base. This led to orchestrations on so many albums and a good second career as a film composer. Doing this concert with the HPO means so much to me. Carol Kehoe at the HPO and Darcy Hepner have made this a reality and offered me nothing but encouragement. Everyone at Hamilton Place who I have worked with over the years make me feel so at home – I don’t think I could have had such a meaningful experience anywhere else on the planet.
Purchase your tickets for October’s HPO performance here.