Skip Thomas is living out a quiet, creative life these days in Mountain View.
Semi-retired now at 66, Thomas works only on “projects of the heart.” Some are funded, most are not. He created a nonprofit Amplifying Truth, and decided to use SteamPunk POE as a creative, eccentric character for videos and music and put “Skip Thomas” on the shelf as the retired, former corporate guy that sits along the creek and feeds pigeons in the park.
Thomas is the oldest of six children, father Jerry L. Thomas MD, mother Evelyn Thomas of Little Rock. During college, his aunt Mary Beth Thomas and uncle Jack invited him to Mountain View discovered a style of music he was not familiar with.
In 1979, he rented the little yellow house on the square, The Sunshine Shop and ran it as a candle, crafts and tee shirt business. Then, the main places music was played was on the courthouse square, the Folk Center or on the lawn of his shop. Gradually he picked up my guitar and joined in, playing with locals, tourists and occasionally local celebrities like Jimmy Driftwood and getting to know the Grandpa Jones family, Simons family, Pam Setzer, Mike McGhee and many more.
Perhaps the greatest influence on his music was the regular visitor to Mountain View, songwriter and performer John Prine.
He worked at the Folk Center as a gunsmith apprentice for his uncle Jack Thomas. After a year, he moved back to Little Rock, eventually launching his own film and marketing production company.
In 2004, interested in learning more about ancestral heritage, he moved to Sedona, Arizona exploring the indigenous tribes, as his grandfather was half blood Cherokee from the Bone Cave Hollow area, not far from Batesville. The Cherokee people were moved from Arkansas to Oklahoma during the Trail of Tears.
In 2016, Thomas decided he wanted to come back “home.” Although Little Rock was previously “home,” his heart and soul heard Mountain View calling. Having family here, including younger sister State Sen. Missy Irvin, and so many friends and a quality of community, richness in nature and deep root there was no place on earth that compared.
His professional career in television, corporate, marketing and film production was under the name Skip Thomas. While in Sedona, he had his first grand daughter, Abby, and she gave him the name POE.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in early 2020, a corporate associate of Thomas in California and another in Vegas learned he played guitar, sang and wrote, so they suggested he submit a song in a competition, Songs with Purpose, out of Nashville. They were looking for inspiring songs that could help make a difference in the world, unite humanity, similar to “We are the World” or “God Bless the U.”
“I already had dozens, but one I produced with my best friend Tony Anthony in Little Rock, seemed perfect, ‘The Power to Heal.’ So I entered it. And June 30th, it was announced that I won first place.”
Read the full story in the July 28, 2021, issue.