BMHOF Class of 1995
James Cronley Thompson never planned on a career as a country singer. As a youth, he sang with a rock band that once, opened for Lou Gramm's pre-Foreigner group Black Sheep at the former local nightclub McVan's.' When things didn't pan out as expected. Thompson moved to North Carolina and began performing as a solo acoustic act, playing songs from such artists as Cat Stevens, James Taylor, Gordon Lightfoot and Crosby, Stills and Nash. He stayed there about a year before returning to Buffalo to form a three-piece acoustic folk ensemble.
It was in about 1981, however, that he stumbled upon his country singer career. "We went to listen to a country band at the Playboy Club and a lady in the crowd recognized me," Thompson recalled. "She had heard me do a Willie Nelson song before and so she said I should sing with the band that was playing, which was the Stone Country Band. When I was done, the band said I did a great job and that I should do more country.
Alas, within a short period of time, the JC Thompson Band was formed. The band's purpose is two-fold, in addition to per- forming at weddings and private parties, the band has released two original tapes - a self-titled debut and 1994's "JCT '94."
Thompson's band performed at last year's Friendship Festival with The Charlie Daniels Band and Diamond Rio and has opened for such acts as Dwight Yoakum, Patty Loveless and Ronnie Mislap.
Thompson visits Nashville often - his band recorded a demo tape and played a showcase there and Thompson does his clothes shopping there.
Thompson describes his band's music as renegade. "The band has always been on the cutting edge of country," he said, "We'll go into the Allman Brothers, Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Thorogood or Crosby, Stills and Nash and still get into Diamond Rio, Travis Tritt and country. We haven't lost our roots of rock and it works, the people dance to it."
Winner of the Buffalo Country Music Award for best singer in 1992 and 1994, Thompson said his biggest goal is to maintain consistency within the band. "Keeping the same members is always tough," he said. "I'd like to settle the band down and keep the same members for 2-3 years to be able to put something together where we can actually say this is the JC Thompson Band's newest version and take it from there. It's hard to say when you put it all together if it will take off, but we're always hoping."
Yet Thompson, who balances his music career with a day job at 3 M, is not anxious to pack up and relocate in search of national success. "If I get back to Nashville, that's fine, and if I don't, I'm satisfied with what I've established here," he said. "I'm proud of what I've accomplished here."
His biggest accomplishment'! "'The fact of being voted Buffalo's best band several years since 1987 certainly is an admirable feat," he said. "And as. an opening act, whenever you're on stage with The Charlie Daniels band or Diamond Rio, that's an accomplishment.
The JC Thompson Band includes longtime members Chris Marziale, keyboards; Dave "Beav" Nizol, drums; and Jeff Kirshner, guitar; along with newer members Buffalo Zew, fiddle and harmonica; and Steve Edmonds, bass.
Back - 1995