Best Acoustic Performer - 2007
Robert Thomas Jr.
Typically this award goes to a singer-songwriter-guitarist some guy or gal carrying on the troubadour tradition, like a Grant Livingston or August Campbell type, to mention two worthy contenders. Sometimes, though, talent trumps tradition, and Robert Thomas Jr. has talent to spare. If the name rings a bell, you must have heard of Weather Report, the famous Seventies jazz band. Thomas gained some of his fame for his work with the founders of that group, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. Thomas (who can, in fact, play guitar, as well as many other instruments from numerous cultures) is a hand drummer. He was born in Miami Beach and is this area's leading jazz light since the passing of Jaco Pastorius (a friend and collaborator). Among Bobby T's many rhythmic innovations is his main claim to fame: sitting at a kit, with drums and cymbals and cowbell, and playing away without sticks. Look, Ma, all hands! Thomas is also a serious collector of indigenous instruments of all types, most of which he can play with virtuosity. And what he plays is serious jazz. You may not find him playing Thursdays and Saturdays at the neighborhood joint, but you will find him in the music history books.