the debut recording by legendary Akwesasne band the
Although the band has seen many different incarnations and personnel changes through the years, the Thundertones, anchored by original members Andy White (electric guitar) and Joe Jacobs (fiddle), have performed for more than a half a century around the Akwesasne Mohawk Territory, which is located on the border between Northern New York State and Canada. On "Legion Stomp", Joe and Andy are joined by harmonica player Jake Adams, who is also from Akwesasne; and by Cherokee singer-songwriter Eddy Lawrence, who played acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, and drums. The album was produced by Eddy and Andy; and recorded, mixed, and mastered by Eddy.
Growing up at Akwesasne, Joe and Andy were exposed to a wide variety of traditional fiddle music, including French-Canadian and New England tunes as well as Appalachian tunes that filtered up through the Adirondacks. Another important influence was the Don Messer Band, whose popular CBC Radio and television shows aired from the 1930s through the late '60s. Through Messer's broadcasts, Joe and Andy were exposed to the Celtic based music of Atlantic Canada. Andy's smooth guitar style, which has inspired Akwesasne guitarists for decades, shows the influence of players like Chet Atkins, Les Paul, Duane Eddy, and Merle Travis.
In their heyday during the 1950s and '60s, the Thundertones played at barn dances, parties, and weddings at Akwesasne as well as at night clubs and other venues in more distant locations such as Buffalo, Rochester, New York City, Toronto, and Ottawa. At the time, the band members were ironworkers and they would pick up gigs wherever they happened to be "working iron." In those days, the lineup consisted of Joe and Andy along with singer/guitarist Sonny Cole, bassist Joe Calcagno, and drummer Tommy George, all of whom were from Akwesasne. Many Akwesasne couples have had the Thundertones play for their weddings and some have had them perform for their 25th and 50th anniversaries as well.
Eddy Lawrence met and became friends with Joe Jacobs shortly after moving to the Akwesasne area in the 1990s and has played off and on with the band ever since. Eddy initiated the recordings that became "Legion Stomp" as a way of paying tribute to Joe and Andy and the tradition that they represent. The earliest recordings on the album were made in unusual makeshift locations such as Joe's garage, the Kantakon Recreation Center, and the offices of the Akwesasne Task force on the Environment. Later sessions were done in Eddy's off-the-grid studio in Moira, NY, where the CD was also mixed and mastered.
Despite the band's long history, "Legion Stomp" is the Thundertones' debut release. Making a guest appearance is Jake Adams who has adapted a number of traditional fiddle tunes for the harmonica.
Although the CD is primarily an instrumental album, it does include one song with lyrics, "The Onkwehonwe Polka", which was written and performed by Eddy. The song was written to describe a road trip that he took with the Thundertones to play a gig in Kahnawake (a Mohawk reserve near Montreal) back in the late '90s. It has become a favorite around the Akwesasne area, thanks to considerable airplay on CKON radio.