In a world frighteningly full of frustrated folks fighting to attain and sustain a peaceful existence, Brooke Thomas found a life of balance and contentment. With a joyful marriage, satisfying work and a fulfilling form of personal expression, the Springfield-based singer and songwriter is sitting pretty in a sweet spot.
Raised up singing in church with a musical family, her life always contained music, yet never revolved completely around it. In fact, she enjoys the act of singing for enjoyment, without succumbing to the ambition that engulfs many musicians.
“I’m not opposed to making it, if something fell into my lap, but nothing has so far,” she laughs. “I don’t want to lose my music as a hobby. I love it too much to make it a job so that it becomes work.”
Brooke’s daytime gig as an administrative assistant at Family Service Center sits well with her, too. While looking for employment after studying music at college, up popped her dream job. Now by doing positive things for kids in foster homes, adoptions and other worthwhile social endeavors, she says what few folks can: “I love my job, I really do. It’s perfect for me.”
A couple years ago while out playing an open mic at the Walnut Street Winery in Rochester, longtime local performer Mike Burnett heard Brooke sing. He approached her immediately about starting a band.
“I didn’t know who Mike Burnett was and figured this won’t last long, but I’ll try it,” she admits. “He had a vision and now almost two years later, it’s still going.”
Last year as a duo, Brooke and Mike represented the Illinois Central Blues Club in Memphis at the International Blues Challenge. This spring when Brooke and her band, the Blue Suns, played a show at Capital City Theater, soundman Ric Major recorded the performance. They picked seven of the songs for her first CD, Live in the Capital City, including interpretations of tunes by Taj Mahal, Smokey Robinson and Springfield singer-songwriter Joe Dawkins, plus originals by Brooke and Burnett.
“I think the world of my band and have full confidence in them,” she says. “There’s nothing like singing well, emotionally and technically – and when the band is all on, it’s a great feeling.”
The group (Burnett, vocals, guitar; Chris Warren, bass; Dion Doss, drums; Ezra Casey, keyboards) is currently working at Private Studios in Urbana on a studio record, with plans for a mid-2012 finish. Local listeners can experience Brooke and the band playing nearly every weekend somewhere around town as the wonderful life continues for the positive pushing, creative driven Brooke Thomas.
“I’ve been writing music since I was 15 and I love it. Writing songs for other people to sing, that would be something I would really like to do,” she says. “But for now I’m pretty happy where it all is, enjoying life and all it brings.”
In other music news to peruse: Scottee Rock’s Acoustic Jam rolls into the Blue Grouch on Oct. 29. The Jam “is NOT an open mic/jam kind of thing,” but features Scottee’s “select musician friends,” such as Ryan King, Gary Fifer, Shane Bumgarner, Robert Reynolds, Dan Luparell, Keeli Z and Mike Wallace as invite-only performers playing on “two or three songs here and there.” Next month look for SR’sAJ at Marly’s and Mowie’s Cue.
The Vine in Rochester, the Springfield area’s only all-ages performance venue, hosts a RapFest Oct. 29 from 6 to 9 p.m. featuring acts Zach Ayappa, God’s Prodigy, BFree, and Identity. The very cool hangout supplies the PA and seating for all, regardless of age, but particularly catering to the young crowd, asking only a small donation to keep the place going.
Contact Tom Irwin at firstname.lastname@example.org.