Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco Roadrunners

Manhattan is a long way from Elton, La., where Thomas grew up (he was born in1965) and where his father, Leo "The Bull" Thomas still lives, but Leroy Thomas now seems at ease wherever he choose to be, whether in Houston, the city he now calls home, in rural Zydeco clubs like Richard's in Lawtell, in night clubs all over the United States, or in upscale establishments that are within the purview of The New Yorker Magazine.

According to a cover story in Houston City Life, Thomas started playing drums at eight: "I wanted to play drums, but I was scared to death to get on my dad's, so my brother and I made some drums out of five-gallon paint buckets. We bolted two more to the sides and flipped them over, and used little branches of trees as sticks." Not long after he started playing drums, he also began to learn the accordion, eventually mastering both the button accordion used by Zydeco musicians like John Delafose and Boozoo Chavis and the piano accordion, the instrument that Clifton Chenier played.

At 19, he joined the band headed by his father (who today continues to play drums and sing at venues in Louisiana and Texas). In addition to playing music, Leroy Thomas did auto painting and body work and also worked on a rice and soybean farm. After moving to Houston, he became a pipe welder, but he continued as a musician.

In 1998, he made his first recording, playing with his father, on the CD Leo Thomas is a Sunama Gun, released by Bad Weather Records.

In July 1999, Thomas launched his own label, Thomas Records. He got the rights to music he recorded for Bad Weather and released Taxi, Take me to the Trail Ride: Greatest Hits and The Monkey and the Baboon. In addition to the title track, which has received a lot of airplay in Louisiana, the latter CD includes other original songs by Leroy Thomas like "I Don't Work No More" that have become popular on the radio. French numbers are "Ça Fait du Mal," "Mom, m'a dit pas voler," in which the words warning against stealing are mainly there only to reinforce the song's insistent rhythm, and "French Waltz," sung by Lee Andrus. The other waltz on the CD is a tribute to Beau Jocque.

In 2002, Thomas released Somebody's Lookin' For Ya, a CD which again demonstrates Thomas's ability as a song writer. In addition to original songs, he also covers his father's signature song, "Why You Want to Make Me Cry?", offers a remix of "The Monkey and the Baboon," and plays his version of "Amédé Two-Step" and Canray Fontenot's "Barres de la Prison," offering a fairly traditional version that segues into a version done to a fast Zydeco beat.

Other members of the band include Gerard St. Julien Jr. on drums; Raymond J. Bilbo on bass; Lawrence "June" Barfield on guitar.

Listen to a track from Leroy Thomashere.

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