Valley News -

By Diane Sieker
Writer 

Musicians of Anza: Michael Thomas, the singing cowboy, delivers heartfelt renditions of old favorites

 

Last updated 4/13/2018 at 2:03pm

Diane Sieker

Musician and actor Michael Thomas prepares for a fun day at the Ride On The Rez charity trail ride event in 2017, where he provided his smooth country tunes at the dinner after the ride.

Editor's note: Musicians of Anza is a new feature highlighting talent in the Anza and Aguanga communities. To be featured, send an email to [email protected]

Anza seems to be a magnet for creative talents in many different and interesting packages. Combine real life cowboy, avid horseman, actor, country western and classic rock musician and all-around nice guy, and you have Michael Thomas.

Like many performers, Thomas developed his love of music early in life. He started singing in church and school as a child, and he participated in the school Glee Club, played a B-flat clarinet in the school band and participated in a symphony orchestra starting at about 8 years of age.

"I was strumming the guitar from time to time back then, but not much yet," Thomas said. "Our home was filled with music most of the time with LP records of Bob Wills, Floyd Cramer, Boots Randolph, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez as well as classical music, Johnny Cash and on and on. My inspiration came out of that eclectic jumble of music that I listened to for years. Then of course, the Beatles, Stones and my favorites, The Eagles."

During these formative years, Thomas wrote his own music, motivated by classic tunes by Willie Nelson, Mack Davis, The Eagles and his favorite solo performer, Waylon Jennings.

Life brought him to the high country in 1982, when he moved to Pine Cove. Later, he spent a few years in May Valley in northern California, moving to Anza about 16 years ago, "all the while playing the guitar and singing and riding horses a lot."

Thomas is a well-respected horseman and cowboy, as comfortable around the animals as he is playing his music. And many times, he combines the equestrian gigs with the music gigs, providing musical accompaniment to trail rides, camp outs and other special events.

According to his social media page, Thomas recorded a CD in 1993, titled "One of these Days," and his single "One of These Days" from the album made the Top 10 in many of Europe's country music charts.

In 2016, Thomas was instrumental in the rescue of close friend Thomas Firth and his a 27-year-old horse Cody after they accidentally tumbled down a steep cliff when footing gave out underneath them.

Firth was found east of Lake Hemet, along the Spitler Peak Trail, where he stayed with his injured horse all day Sunday and into Monday morning. Thomas rode out for help.

"Being involved in this whole catastrophe from the beginning," Firth wrote later, "Every bit as banged up and exhausted as I was, Michael made it out to call for help and then because he isn't any smarter than he should be, rode back in in the dark to bring me food and supplies for Cody, Mutt and myself, and then laying down up on the trail and spending the night harassing the wildlife."

The horse was rescued by helicopter and has since fully recovered from the ordeal.

Thomas is more than a real and skilled cowboy. He plays one on the big screen as well. Cast as lawman Otis Huckabee in the film "Tucker's War," he has been praised for his rich and authentic portrayal of the "meanest lawman ever."

"Now I'm trying my hand at TV and movie acting after spending 20 years with the 'Ramona' pageant in Hemet," Thomas said. "I also spent a year in France acting in Buffalo Bills Wild West Show outside of Paris. Singing, stunt man and acting. We are preparing now to shoot three episodes of 'Tucker's War' this summer and a movie in the fall."

"I have known Michael Thomas for a long time," "Tucker's War" star Steve Silkotch said. "He has always been there when I needed him. We have done a lot of stuff over the years, played guitars together, roped cattle together and been in films together, as well as the 'Ramona' play. Mike is a great man."

Thomas is been involved with the "Ramona" play, now celebrating its 95th year, cast as Kit Carson.

But he is best known locally for his heartfelt renditions of crowd-pleasing favorite country western tunes. His experience in the music field is hard to beat.

Courtesy

Michael Thomas sports his new costume for the 2018 "Ramona" outdoor play.

"I've met a lot of great people along the way," he said. "I played with Chuck Berry at the Swing Auditorium in the 1970s and opened for the Bellamy Brothers in the '80s. I met and visited with Garth Brooks the night he announced his retirement from the business. James Taylor was there and Mariah Carey."

Between calf brandings, trail rides, gigs, TV and plays, Thomas always has the time for a kind word to his fellow creatives and most importantly, his many devoted fans. He encourages people to do their very best.

"Life is good," he said. "Never quit your dreams!"

To reach Michael Thomas, please visit www.facebook.com/MichaelThomasCountry.

For more information on the "Ramona" pageant, click on http://ramonabowl.com.

To learn more about "Tucker's War," see the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/TuckersWar.

Diane Sieker can be reached by email at [email protected]

 

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