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Kelly Thomas / Press

“We know writing can be cathartic. Doing it in song can also take emotional courage. That’s the take from vocalist Kelly Thomas’ CD of original songs – all honest, heart-wrenching and therapeutic – as she writes of personal pains, triumphs, break-ups and addictions. She has never released a full CD based on her own writing until now. Thomas lets loose with a searing emotional journey right from the first track on “Hard Winter,” a foreboding slow-burn epic. It’s followed by the title cut, perhaps expressing the album’s theme, “I want to fly high above my fears.” There are broken relationships of bands and boyfriends, loved ones lost to drugs, and the wrongs that friends inexplicably do to do friends. Thomas admits to “picking some scabs” to find the emotional honesty.”

Rick Bird - Cincinnati Enquirer

“Thomas’ decade-long journey is easy to hear in Fly. Themes of love, loss, recovery and moving on cycle through the album, drawing a long, winding path though Thomas’s life experiences. And these aren’t cherry-picked events, either. Thomas had little choice in her material; the lyrics often wrote themselves. “This album insisted on being written now,” Thomas says. With a voice recorder and notepad on her nightstand, Thomas’ words would wake her up and not let go until they were captured on tape or paper. Bringing the album together took more than just Thomas’ lyrics. Fellow Pickups John Bedinghaus and Jeff Boling, several local musical heavy-hitters and local producing veteran Mike Montgomery all worked long and hard to make sure the musicianship of Fly was just as dynamic as Thomas’ words. The inspirations ranged from Honky Tonk and Country to Jazz and Blues. Many songs have a Rolling Stones vibe, which makes the “Beast of Burden” cover all the more appro”

“Their songs are authentic and energetic from an act that could win loyal fans in the mid and deep south. Given a comfortable smoky dive, a warm summer night in the south, and cold beer, these guys could make the right crowd, say, of people who might find themselves “drinkin’ alone on Saturday night/puttin’ down the whiskey,” pretty happy. They are not country music in a bluegrass or Grand Old Opry sense, but they are the type of pure country infused with rock-in-roll that stands strong, forsaking their candidacy for mainstream “country” radio play… and they just don’t give a darn about it; they sound like they’re having a great time doing it. ”

“The Hayseed Tabernacle Choir is just another example of Thomas rallying creative people around a great idea. Her impact on the scene has been undeniable, as founder of the Rivertown Music Club (and the annual One More Girl on a Stage showcase of regional female artists), with her bands Second Sister and the Fabulous Pickups and her collaboration with 500 Miles to Memphis’ Ryan Malott. And at last weekend’s Taste of Cincinnati, she was awarded the 2010 Katie Reider Spirit of Music Award to honor her charitable donations and music outreach through Rivertown and her invaluable contributions to the creative community. Thomas is clearly honored by it all and glad to be a vital part of a vibrant scene. ”

“think a lot of times people get into this trying-to-emulate-country and they almost kind of tear it down, or make it tacky or raunchy – it's the only word that comes to mind. It's not like that. The lyrics are sweet, but they're funny, just like Loretta Lynn would do. Her lyrics were so… just the way she probably talked in her everyday life, and that's how this is. It's not trying to overdo the hillbilly thing”

“Kelly Thomas, a singer-songwriter with a 20-year history of playing music and giving to the community, will receive the 2010 Katie Reider Spirit of Music Award at 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the Metromix Stage at P&G Gardens during Taste of Cincinnati. The first Katie Reider Spirit of Music Award was given posthumously last year to Katie Reider, an up-and-coming singer-songwriter who died of complications from a rare facial tumor in 2008 at age 30. Reider - who released four albums, won five local music awards and had her songs featured on national television - made her Taste debut in 1998 and performed at the festival every year through 2007. "Kelly is a great choice to be the first to receive this award in Katie's name," said Karen Reider, Katie's partner, in an announcement about the award. "She's been an amazing presence on the local music scene, and her commitment to helping nonprofits, and in particular fighting cancer, is inspiring." ”