“A superb artist. A real giver.” Tim Thorpe, Vital Bits, 3RRR
“There are no riches but the riches of love. And there’s nothing you can’t rise above”. Whether it’s the sustaining invocation to his young son, or the pain and desperation of our forgotten peoples, Les Thomas sings true to the heart of every listener. His intense lyrical style, and impassioned musical presentation enthral with deftly woven stories that we can’t walk away from. His songs remain on our lips for days after they are heard. Les Thomas is the champion of generations of Melbourne songwriters through his renowned Unpaved Songwriter Sessions. And the passion he brings to writing and presenting the songs of our times is an experience you will feel rewards your soul. A must see artist.
Les Thomas sets his lyricism to the sounds of country-folk and Americana while drawing inspiration from the likes of Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Steve Earle as well as local legends like Archie Roach, Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly.
Coming from a culturally and racially diverse family background, and with decades of grassroots activism as a unionist and social justice advocate, Les has a strong and direct connection to his community in Naarm/Melbourne and beyond.
His music has always been in solidarity with the oppressed, refugees, migrants, dispossessed, socially excluded and marginalised peoples and a good proportion of his live performances have been at rallies, picket lines and on the back of trucks at protests.
Over the years, Les has also shared a lot of music writing and interviewing, helping to promote local artists via the Unpaved website and songwriter sessions at The Old Bar and POME Richmond which got to feature people like Liz Stinger, Marlon Williams, Courtney Barnett, Van Walker and many others. He’s interviewed a wide variety of local and international artists including Steve Earle, Jason Isbell, David Bromberg, Eric Bibb and Valerie June.
His debut single ‘Song for Selva’ is based on a letter from a Tamil asylum seeker who had been detained without charge for 37 months. After strong community radio support for the song in the first week after its release, Selva was removed from Broadmeadows detention centre into “community detention”.
Les is preparing to release his new album “All My Friends Are Superstars” in October 2023 with production by Stephen Grady (The Ahearn Brothers).
His first album “Survivor’s Tale'” was released on November 9, 2013 and has been described as “an incredible collection of songs” (Denise Hylands, 3RRR) with an exceptional line-up of musicians including Jeff Lang, Ashley Davies, Mandy Connell, Ben Franz, Justin Bernasconi, Cat Canteri and more.
“In the folk tradition of Woody Guthrie, Les Thomas doesn’t simply sing a story about a stranger, he learns their story, helps give them a voice and uses the medium of music as advocacy. Currently a lot of people get named and promoted as the next great folk artist, but it is people like Les Thomas that keep the origins of folk forefathers alive and true.” Lauren Duiker, The Orange Press
“Les Thomas is a good man – his heart, his politics and his musical voice are drawn from the same passionate well.” Michael Waugh
“Les Thomas has been one of the finest and most active members of the music community which I call home since before I knew it existed.” Lachlan Bryan