Our Views: A teacher of the blues

Tabby Thomas
Tabby Thomas

If there is one part of Louisiana’s rich music scene that Baton Rouge can lay special claim to, it is the swamp blues that was the life’s work of Tabby Thomas.

The recording artist and club owner died just shy of his 85th birthday, but he lives on in the memories of a generation that found its way to a modest club on North Boulevard, the Blues Box. It was one of those genuine places that became the stuff of legend.

The father of Grammy-winning singer-guitarist and actor Chris Thomas King, Tabby Thomas had retired from performing because of a stroke in 2004. For more than 20 years before that, though, the Blues Box was a place where musicians played and grew, something that is a real tribute for the plain-spoken musician who felt that the blues was owed its due.

“He was a champion for Louisiana’s blues music during times when a lot of people turned away from it,” the younger Thomas said. “He carried it on and passed it on.”

That he did.