Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickups

Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickups

 A staple on the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati music scene since 2005, Kelly Thomas and The Fabulous Pickups have carved out a respectable place as a premier band in their home town. In 2011, the band released it's debut album "Fly" which was well received on both a local and national level. They were nominated by The Cincinnati Entertainment Awards in 2011 for Best Country Act. 

What people are saying about "Fly"... 

Family Reunion Country 

...Along this musical journey Kelly uses her vocal and emotional range to really bring the story to life. "Fly" is reminiscent of Roseanne Cash's "The Seven Year Ache." She conjures the sultriness of Elannah Myles for the tempting, "Enough." She also brings the intimacy of Margo Timmins (of Cowoby Junkies) to several songs including "Hello Goodbye." The Fabulous Pickups add to the depth of this album by changing tempos in perfect time with the narrative of the story. With mournful slide guitars and defiant electric guitar work, the Fabulous Pickups help capture all the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster ride. But for those of us lucky enough to eavesdrop on this musical confessional, there are only highs. 

Cincinnati Enquirer 
Rick Bird 
We know writing can be cathartic. Doing it in song can also take emotional courage. That’s the take from vocalist Kelly Thomas’ CD of original songs – all honest, heart-wrenching and therapeutic – as she writes of personal pains, triumphs, break-ups and addictions. 

Thomas is perhaps best known locally for her side projects rather than her main group, the Fabulous Pickups. She was in folk-rock band Second Sister over a decade ago; formed musician support group Rivertown Music Club; showcased female artists with a series of shows, One More Girl On a Stage; recorded a classic country duet album with Ryan Malott (“500 Miles to Memphis”), and formed such country/gospel tribute groups as the Tammy WhyNots and The Hayseed Tabernacle Choir. 

But she has never released a full CD based on her own writing until now. Thomas lets loose with a searing emotional journey right from the first track on “Hard Winter,” a foreboding slow-burn epic. It’s followed by the title cut, perhaps expressing the album’s theme, “I want to fly high above my fears.” There are broken relationships of bands and boyfriends, loved ones lost to drugs, and the wrongs that friends inexplicably do to do friends. Thomas admits to “picking some scabs” to find the emotional honesty. 

Thomas is rooted in old-time country, but this is not strictly a country album, with plenty of roots rock, honky tonk and even a touch of metal. However, Thomas is perhaps best on her from-the-gut country ballads like “Worse for the Wear” and “High Time.” The CD is a great showcase for local artists, starting with producer Mike Montgomery, who knows where to put the hooks, along with David Rhodes Brown, Brad Meinerding and Fabulous Pickup members John Bedinghaus, Jeff Boling and Sylvia Mitchell. 
While some of the songs can be emotionally tough, the theme is hopeful and liberating, especially on “Fearless,” the closing track – as good a breakup rocker as you’ll hear – when Thomas sassily sings, “I love you, but I gotta go.” 

Nate Rosing 
Fly is one of those albums that continues to build throughout and gets noticeably better to the ear after each listen. Upon first listen, I felt that the opening number “Hard Winter” got it off to a rather slow start. After just a few listens however, I would quickly take back that ridiculous notion. 

The song sets the tone and only raises the bar for what is to come. At about the minute-and-a-half mark Kelly’s voice begins to rise gracefully, leading the band into great heights of toe-tapping drums and twangy, blues-infused guitar licks, followed by Mitchell’s moving fiddle and the sweet harmonies from the trio of backing singers. It leaves you feeling anxious. 

As a band primarily rooted in country music, Fly actually takes on sounds that would appeal to a wide range of music fans of all styles and ages. Much of the album is filled with upbeat country rockers, but you’ll find that Thomas and the Pickups manage to squeeze in all types of styles in each song ranging from Americana to blues to folk to pop and to Soul.