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Spotlight: Anders Thomsen

Spotlight: Anders Thomsen

Singer, Songwriter, Guitar Builder and Slinger
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Photo: Ace Andersson

Anders Thomsen is an artist with deep roots in the heart of American music. Growing up in the Midwest, Thomsen was steeped in the rich traditions of honky-tonk, blues, country, and roots rock. From the twang of the Opry to the raw energy of rock ‘n’ roll and the soulful echoes of the blues, Thomsen has absorbed these influences and made them his own, creating a unique and compelling sound.

A Journey Through Music

Thomsen’s journey into music began at an early age. Before he was old enough to drive, he was already performing in bars and nightclubs, sometimes armed with a note from his mother to gain entry. Reflecting on his early start, Thomsen shares, “I started performing in bars when I was still a teenager. My mom had to write me notes so I could get in. It was a bit unusual, but it gave me a lot of experience early on.

Growing up in the Midwest, Thomsen was surrounded by a rich tapestry of musical styles. His early exposure to different genres played a significant role in shaping his musical identity. “I grew up listening to a lot of country and western, rock ‘n’ roll, and blues. My parents had a pretty eclectic record collection, and I just soaked it all in,” he says.

I started performing in bars when I was still a teenager. My mom had to write me notes so I could get in. It was a bit unusual, but it gave me a lot of experience early on.

Thomsen’s father, a musician himself, was a significant influence on young Anders. “My dad played guitar and sang, and there were always instruments around the house. He taught me my first chords and how to strum along to songs. We’d have these impromptu jam sessions at home, and that’s where I really fell in love with playing music.

Influences and Inspirations

When asked about his influences, Thomsen points to a blend of old-school rock ‘n’ roll, vintage country, and Chicago blues. “I’m into old-school rock ‘n’ roll, old country and western with electric guitars, and Chicago blues,” he explains. “That’s not nearly all I like or listen to, though. But I think it definitely gives you an idea of my style.

Thomsen’s admiration for iconic musicians shaped his own approach to music. “I was heavily influenced by the likes of Chuck Berry, Johnny Cash, and Muddy Waters. Their music had this raw energy and honesty that really resonated with me. It’s something I strive to bring into my own music.

Photo: Scott Siegel

Thomsen also draws inspiration from the craftsmanship and artistry of vintage music. “I love the sound and feel of old records. There’s a warmth and authenticity to them that you just don’t get with digital recordings. It’s part of what drives me to build my own guitars. I want to create instruments that have that same character and soul.

Life on the Road and Beyond

Thomsen’s career has taken him across the country and around the world. One of his most memorable experiences was playing in Chuck Berry’s touring band. “I was in a band that was Chuck Berry’s backing band whenever he played in mid-Michigan. It was completely mind-blowing and exhilarating for me!

Damon and the Shitkickers

Despite a decade-long hiatus from music, Thomsen found his way back into the scene after moving to Savannah in 2008. By 2011, he was playing with Damon and the Shitkickers, and his musical journey resumed with renewed vigor. “I took over when their guitar player left for Macon. It was an easy way to get back into playing cause I knew most of the tunes they did. My brain did, at least. My fingers needed some time to catch up after 10 years off!

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Performing in Savannah

Savannah, GA, has become a significant part of Thomsen’s life and career. The city’s vibrant music scene, with its blend of historical charm and modern dynamism, provides the perfect backdrop for his musical endeavors. Thomsen performs regularly around the area, from the bustling downtown to the more relaxed midtown, and even the scenic spots on Tybee Island.

Savannah has a great music scene for both musicians and fans. It’s not too big and not too small. We get lots of lovely tourists who want to have a good time with a drink and some live music,” Thomsen notes. He adds with a grin, “All the places I play at are the best! They’re even better when YOU are there!

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Thoughts on Venues and Local Artists

Thomsen has high praise for the venues in Savannah, which he describes as integral to the city’s unique musical ecosystem. “The venues here are fantastic. They’re very supportive of local artists and provide great spaces for us to perform,” he says. Thomsen frequently plays at popular spots like the Jinx, El-Rocko Lounge, and the Wormhole, where the atmosphere is always electric and the audiences are engaged and enthusiastic.

The local venues really understand the importance of live music,” Thomsen explains. “They’re not just places to play; they’re places where music lives and breathes.

The local venues really understand the importance of live music, they’re not just places to play; they’re places where music lives and breathes.

Thomsen is equally enthusiastic about the local artists in Savannah, many of whom he collaborates with regularly. “There’s so much talent here,” he says. “Musicians like Rachael Shaner and Chris Fullerton bring so much to the table. Playing with them is always a joy because they’re incredibly skilled and passionate about what they do.

He also appreciates the sense of community among Savannah’s musicians. “We’re a tight-knit group,” Thomsen shares. “There’s a lot of collaboration and mutual support. It’s not a competition; it’s about making great music together.

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A Multifaceted Talent: The Art of Guitar Building

In addition to his music, Thomsen is also a skilled guitar maker, a craft that has become an integral part of his artistic identity. His passion for building guitars started as an extension of his love for playing them. “I’ve always been fascinated by how things work and that naturally extended to guitars,” Thomsen says. “There’s something incredibly satisfying about creating an instrument from scratch and then using it to make music.

Thomsen’s approach to guitar building is hands-on and deeply personal. Each guitar is a unique creation, meticulously crafted to meet the specific needs and preferences of the musician. “I build guitars that I want to play,” Thomsen explains. “I think about the sound, the feel, and the look. It’s about creating something that inspires me and hopefully inspires others.

Many musicians in Savannah and beyond play guitars crafted by Thomsen, showcasing his talent both on and off the stage. “I currently perform 3-4 times a week in and around the Savannah area, and I also build guitars. I play most of the ones I use on stage, and several musicians in Savannah and beyond can be seen performing with ones I’ve built.

Photo: Scott Siegel

The process of building a guitar is intricate and time-consuming, but it’s a labor of love for Thomsen. He starts with selecting the right wood, often opting for materials that have a story or unique character. “The wood is the soul of the guitar,” he says. “I look for pieces that have a resonance and beauty to them.

From there, Thomsen shapes and assembles the guitar, paying close attention to every detail. “It’s about precision and patience,” he explains. “Every cut, every joint has to be perfect. It’s a blend of artistry and craftsmanship.

Once the guitar is assembled, Thomsen moves on to the finishing touches, which include sanding, staining, and adding hardware. “The finishing process is where the guitar really comes to life,” he says. “It’s amazing to see how it transforms from raw wood to a beautiful, playable instrument.

The rewards have always outweighed the struggles. I do what I do because I love it!

Thomsen’s guitars are not only beautiful but also built to perform. He incorporates modern techniques and components to ensure that each instrument meets the highest standards of playability and sound quality. “I want my guitars to be the best they can be,” he says. “They need to sound great and feel great in the hands of the player.

Challenges and Rewards

Thomsen’s journey hasn’t always been smooth. “It has been smooth and rough! Struggles include vehicles breaking down, record labels going out of business, tours being canceled, not being paid enough, and on and on…” Despite these challenges, Thomsen remains passionate about his craft. “The rewards have always outweighed the struggles. I do what I do because I love it!

What are your thoughts on Anders Thomsen? Let us know in the comments below …

Works Cited & Referenced:

“Guitarist Anders Thomsen, Purveyor of Quality Honky Tonk.” Anders Thomsen, 2023, bookanders.com/about/. Accessed 16 June 2024.

Jams, Savannah. “Anders Thomsen – Interview.” Savannah Jams, 25 Mar. 2022, savannahjams.com/interviews/anders-thomsen-interview/. Accessed 16 June 2024.

Stories, Local. “Meet Anders Thomsen – Voyage Savannah Magazine.” Voyagesavannah.com, 1 Aug. 2023, voyagesavannah.com/?post_type=interview&p=78378. Accessed 16 June 2024.

Berinato, Christopher. “Savannah Singer, Guitar Slinger and Honky Tonker Anders Thomsen Shares “Seven Songs.”” Savannah Morning News, 2022, www.savannahnow.com/story/entertainment/2022/08/24/savannah-ga-music-anders-thomsen-debuts-new-album-seven-songs/7833949001/. Accessed 16 June 2024.

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