Tommy Thomas carries a business card that poses the question, "What can't the working man do?" Up until the mid-'80s, a total smartass might respond with: "Keep a band together" or "Stay off the sauce and nose candy." But as the cold sober and respiritualized Thomas already knows, any blues singer worth his stripes is bound to have some rough spots along the way, whether that involves being shot, stabbed or sent to jail several times -- all of which the Working Man can list on his done-me-wrong resumé. But for a Manual High School dropout by way of Vicksburg, Mississippi (where he grew up the youngest of ten kids), the 49-year-old Thomas has certainly come a long way from hauling firewood, rolling dice and street-busking for pocket change as a kid to winning 2002's Living Blues Critics Award for the best soul/blues recording with You Put That Dog Ahead of Me. Spotlighting Thomas's booming, gospel-bred pipes, the exceptional effort recalls Little Milton and Bobby Bland with a horn-driven sound and a heart dressed for pain. As the headlining act for the Colorado Blues Society Benefit Concert, Thomas and the Working Band join Little Mary and Her Hometown Boogie Kings, Sam Mayfield, Willie Houston, Jill Watkins and "Little" James Brown Saturday, July 17, 7:30 p.m. at 1770 Sherman Event Complex. How blue is your collar?
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