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Gerry Thompson is an X-Ray technician from New Jersey. He is also an incredible songwriter, but he says the songs come from inside the boxes he uses to make his guitars. Gerry's songs can make you laugh or make you cry and his life story carries the same spectrum of emotions. He spent a good bit of time as a homeless alcoholic and although he has triumphed over that lifestyle, it has taken a toll on his health. He had his second liver transplant only weeks before the performance captured in Songs Inside The Box. He wore the teddy bear hat to go along with his song "Barely Alive Without You."
Gerry's MySpace Page: www.myspace.com/colorofskies
Shane Speal describes Johnny Lowebow as "louder than God." Along with blaring bass and guitar tones, Johnny mixes in pounding percussion played not only with his feet but also with his right hand as he strums. Just witnessing this artist at work is a memorable event!
The many folks who love Johnny's feedback-laced music also love his insightful and endearing lyrics about everyday things. He was already making unique cigar box guitars in the back room of his Memphis, Tennessee book and music store when street musician Richard Johnston challenged him to craft an instrument that would allow him to play bass and guitar at the same time. Johnston stuns audiences on Beale Street with the instrument, and Johnny Lowebow records his own CDs and plays in nightclubs to audiences that just can't get enough.
Johnny's MySpace Page: www.myspace.com/johnnylowebow
Doctor Oakroot really is a doctor. He's a pharmaceutical researcher from North Carolina and the concoctions he makes in his work help people feel better. So does the music he plays on his cigar box guitars. Sure, there's a dark touch to some of his lyrics but the melodies will make you smile and hum along.
The good doctor travels in his work and never passes up an opportunity to play an open mic in whatever city he's in at the time. He wants to share the joy he's found with cigar box guitars with as many people as possible. You can also experience that joy through the several CDs of original songs he has recorded.
Doctor Oakroot's website: www.doctoroakroot.com
The New Age Hillbilly is the stage name of Tom Hartwell of Hinton, West Virginia. His nickname is Tomi-O and that's the name found on the front door of his downtown Hinton music store and on his finely crafted instruments.
Tom sings about the absurdities he's seen in the stereotypes of hillbilly people and his guitars can wail! In fact, his instrumental, "Too Many Trips," is heard in the opening and closing of Songs Inside The Box.
He played at the 2nd annual Cigar Box Guitar Extravaganza where producer/director Max Shores found the inspiration to do the documentary, but couldn't make it to the 3rd annual event where cameras were rolling, so Shores took the cameras to him in West Virginia.
Tomi-O's MySpace Page: www.myspace.com/thenewagehillbilly
When Robert Hamilton toured with experimental rock group Green Magnet School, he played a drum kit that included trash cans and a shopping cart. After years on the road, he retired from music and became a computer programmer in Lowell, Massachusetts. When the tragic suicide of an uncle drew him back to music to express his sadness, a Tomi-O cigar box guitar became his new instrument.
Hamilton's current group, the Low-Country Messiahs, couldn't join him at the Cigar Box Guitar Extravaganza but Shane Speal took the stage with him and the result was pure magic. The music is ethereal, almost ghostly, and filled with blues influences and religious overtones.
The Low-Country Messiah's website: www.lowcountrymessiahs.com
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"I got me a cigar box... and got me a tune out of it. I kept my tune and I played from then on."
Texas Blues Musician
Songs Inside The Box
a documentary by Max Shores
Email Max Shores