LOCK HAVEN - Foreverinmotion is an apt stage name for Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Brendon Thomas, who will play a free show at 8 tonight at Lock Haven's Avenue 209 Coffee House. Thomas started touring with bands at 18 and has lived his life "in motion" for years now.
When we spoke, he was on his way west to Cleveland on a swing that had him hitting Chicago on Saturday, Madison, Wis., Sunday and Nashville Monday night, before making the drive back up to Pennsylvania.
"Life, on the road, for the most part, it's an ebb and flow of booking and recording, going out and coming back," Thomas said. "I'm at home in my element when I'm on the road, having shows every night."
Foreverinmotion will perform at 8 tonight at Avenue 209 Coffee House, 209 Bellefonte Ave., Lock Haven.
Thomas has done the van-tour thing, but as a solo act, he has the luxury of economizing a bit.
"I'm driving a 2000 Toyota Corolla - I always had vans, but it's nice to get 35 miles-per-gallon," he said. "It stresses you a lot less when you fill up."
Thomas' songwriting "comes in spurts," he says: "On the road, I consider that a time of absorption, I carry a notebook with me and sometimes write just one line down. There's that in-between state, maybe you've had a couple beers, where you can tap into the ether; a greater sense of truth, maybe."
On "Sunrise," Foreverinmotion's most recent album, Thomas' road-testedness and experience comes through the speakers in both lyrics and rhythms. His 2004 self-titled debut album is a soothing record, full of lightly strummed jangly guitar and wind chimes. 2007's "The Beautiful Unknown" is more aggressive, full of loud-soft dynamics and driving beats. "Sunrise" melds those two feels, with songs that stomp and songs that go easy, with a healthy dose of blues harp and steel guitar dashed in for color and energy, all serving to support Thomas' lyrics.
"Don't you fly away for good, sing me something before my tumbleweed blows," Thomas sings on "Red Bird," one of the stompers on "Sunrise." The urgency and loneliness of the road are well-represented on the album: there's the simple one-line "chorus" to "Wanderer," for example: "Baby, I've been gone," or this line: "They say the calendar is cancer."
"I consider myself a lyricist more than just a musician," Thomas said. "As a solo artist you can sing songs that say something more that doesn't have to fit into your standard forms. If the song doesn't need a chorus, you don't have to put one in because it's supposed to be there."
Home, for Thomas, is the New York apartment where he recorded "Sunrise," and it is Chester, Vermont, where he grew up. His family owned a bed and breakfast in the middle of ski country.
"We grew up with baseball, then skateboarding, then punk rock," Thomas said. "Music just took hold; I've been touring since I was 18."
The New York move brought a sense of place for Thomas, though the city sometimes sends him back to Vermont for some small-town relaxation and reflection.
"There's lots of inspiration in the city, but there's also lots of distractions. When I moved to Brooklyn three years ago, there's just all these young, hip artists running around, white kids from all over the grid. I took a bartending job on the side, my first real job in like six years, so it was strange working for someone - but nice to have some steady income."
Thomas also plays in "The End of America," a trio of singer-songwriters, "kind of like a modern Crosby, Stills and Nash - it's lots of harmonies, three individual writers who get along surprisingly well."
Thomas played in Lock Haven two years ago with "The End of America."
"It's a built-in audience of college students," he said. "The nice thing about smaller towns is that having a show there is kind of a big deal, so people come out and get excited."
Foreverinmotion plays a free show at Avenue 209 Coffee House in Lock Haven, 209 Bellefonte Ave, 8 tonight. Listen to all his albums and learn more at Foreverinmo tion.net.