Eugene Weekly : Music : 3.6.08

First of Four
Thomas Kramer plans volumes of music

You might call 21-year-old Thomas Kramer “the man with the plan.” Kramer is celebrating the release of his first album — which he also recorded and produced himself — entitled From the Breadbasket: Volume I. Kramer’s plan calls for three more volumes in the From the Breadbasket series to be released throughout 2008 and 2009, then compiled together.

Kramer started playing guitar at 14 after breaking up with the trumpet. He wasn’t feeling “the whole singer/songwriter thing,” so the Salem native began writing folksier, blues-based tunes. People started paying attention, and Kramer’s path suddenly seemed clear.

Looking back, it makes sense that a middle schooler into Hendrix and Clapton who sought out blues shows would gravitate to blues-influenced music. “I saw B.B. King when I was 16. I sat three feet away from him,” Kramer says. “That was pretty influential!”

Volume I has been a year in the works as Kramer perfected his songwriting craft. “I kept making changes and writing more songs,” he says, “and I just wanted to make a short, three-song record that would stand alone and be really good, instead of putting a bunch of filler in there.”

Volume I contains the tracks “Corn,” “62nd Movin’ On Blues” and “Gardening.” All Kramer’s songs are gentle representations of life with a bluesy backbone that comes through everything, says the guy with a hard drive full of jazz, blues, indie, hip hop, electro and just about everything else. “What I really draw from in my writing is more rural stuff, old Delta blues artists like Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell. I really enjoy that sort of music,” Kramer says, “and some more contemporary people,” like Tom Waits or Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Kramer has found a welcoming reception as a newcomer into the Eugene blues scene. “Obviously I don’t have as much experience as a lot of these older guys and I’m probably not as good of a player by any means, but everyone’s been really nice and positive,” he says. “I think it’s really cool that these established people are willing to come out and play with me.”

Thomas Kramer, Al Rivers and The Shade Tree Mechanics, Eagle Park Slim. 7 pm Thursday, 3/13. Cozmic Pizza • $5