For those of you who don't know Erik, he is probably best known as the mandolin player and lead singer for
Due West, the innovative bluegrass band from northern California. Erik also played
for a number of years with the Bluegrass/Vocal Gospel band FaultLine
out of northern California. Listen to samples of some of Erik's studio work.
Erik is an experienced software engineer, and is pleased to be a member of the Grow Your Business
Team at Intuit, Inc. Read more about Erik's day job.
Erik is also a worship leader at his church (New Day Church) in Boulder
A California native who moved to the Rocky Mountains near Boulder, Colorado roughly 4 1/2 years ago after working
for more than 18 years in Silicon Valley, Erik's mixed musical heritage begins with the genes and influence of
his world renowned mom, the famous classical violin soloist Camilla Wicks (check out one of her CDs
The Art of Camilla Wicks, and
other links about her
here), and his trumpet playing dad, Bob Thomas, who worked with Harry James and other famous big bands.
Erik got his first guitar in his early teens and studied classical as well as blues/rock styles off-and-on until
being introduced to bluegrass at age 20.
Through the years, Erik has worked with an eclectic mix of well-known artists, including
LeRoy Mack and
Darol Anger among others.
An accomplished contest player, Erik has twice won the Western Open Mandolin and Flatpicking Guitar Championships.
Erik's singing can also be heard on the multi-million selling sound track of the computer game sensation The Sims™.
Following are a few mp3 samples of Erik's studio work.
These Boots (Due West)
"Due West is a contemporary bluegrass band of the highest caliber. They combine all the essential
ingredients — smooth vocal harmonies, instrumental virtuosity and great tunes, old and new —
in refreshingly different ways. Don't pass this one up!"
— David "Dawg" Grisman
Following are some samples of Erik playing mandolin and singing on Due West's last album
These Boots. The members of Due West were
Bill Evans, Jim Nunally,
Chad Manning, and
Jim Nunally - guitar
Erik Thomas - mandolin
Bill Evans - banjo
Chad Manning - fiddle
Cindy Browne - bass
Due West (self titled)
"What happens when you combine equal parts of 1950s bluesy Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs at their early sixties
peak, and the sparkle of the Bakersfield sound — with a dash of great new original bluegrass songs, soulful
singing, instrumental chops, crisp arrangements and an immovable groove — laid down by five of California's
You have the future of bluegrass music for this here west coast. A great new group has just formed with
some of my favorite musicians. Check out DUE WEST."
— Mike Marshall
Junction Breakdown - Robert really tears up this traditional instrumental!
Colored Glasses (John Conlee/George Baber) - I always loved this song from
the first time I heard John Conlee sing it. I did get some of the lyrics wrong
I Met You (Erik Thomas/Suzanne Reynolds) - One of the first songs I
ever wrote, I collaborated with Suzanne who wrote the lyrics.
Riff (Bobby Clark) - Cute little instrumental written by the amazing
Bobby Clarke who has won both the National and World Mandolin
Jim Nunally - guitar
Rob Ickes - dobro
Erik Thomas - mandolin
Greg Spatz - fiddle
Robert Bowden - banjo
Stephen Carlson - bass
Revenuer's Gun - Erik sings tenor
and plays mandolin on this Jim's original barn-burner duet. Due West backs
him up so listen for some awesome banjo pickin' by Bill Evans!
Your Tone of the Blues
- Erik sings tenor and plays mandolin on this one too. It's another Jim
Nunally original recorded with Due West.
Arms Full of Empty - Erik
sings tenor and plays mandolin on this fun (but sad) Buck Owens song that
Jim also recorded with Due West.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 16 2009
Erik Thomas and Heaven's Key
The 3rd Annual New Day Bluegrass and Gospel Concert
Wow, what a fun weekend we had! Dick, Steve, Charlie, and Charlie's wife Helen stayed at our
house while LeRoy and his wife Jan stayed in their coach.
Wonderful friends, good food, lots of laughs, great music and
awesome audiences made for a weekend to remember.
Check out some concert picks here.
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 19 2009
Software development background
Erik has been working for more than 4 years with Intuit, Inc., the leading
maker of personal and small business accounting software, including
Turbo Tax and a lot more! He is currently working with a team that is
designing and creating add-on web applications that leverage QuickBooks data to provide innovative ways to
grow your small business.
Two applications Erik has had a key role in creating are Customer Manager Online,
and Email Marketing Services.
Erik's current technical skills include proficiency in Adobe Flex,
Erik's background in software engineering begins in 1977 when he took a summer course in BASIC programming on
a mainframe computer at the University of Nevada, Reno.
Erik and the class lab instructor collaborated to create what was perhaps the very first Star Wars computer game
in the world. The first of the Star Wars movies was released just a month or two before the course
began. They modeled the game after the [then] very popular "Star Trek" computer game which was
written in BASIC and run on timeshare mainframes. They used 100 Baud teletype machines (remember those in old science
fiction movies and Telegram offices in the 60s?) to interface with the game. It was surprisingly fun to play despite
such a crude display: just keyboard characters that printed out on the teletype to look vaguely like
tie fighters, the death star, the trench, and laser cannon shots.
Shortly after this experience Erik enlisted in the U.S. Army and served 3 years on active duty, spending 2 of
those as a computer operator working on the Department of Defense manpower management system. By this time he
knew he wanted to make a career in the computer sciences.
At the end of his Army stint, Erik had learned one extremely valuable lesson, and that was the importance of a
college degree in our society today if you ever wanted to have some say in what you did for a living. So he
came home and enrolled at the University of Nevada at Reno—
which had a top-notch business department and a new Computer Information Systems curriculum—and
earned a Bachelor of Science degree with Distinction (top 10% of class; 3.82 GPA).
Of course, Erik kept his music career going throughout college, earning most of his spending money by performing.
During the summer following graduation, while looking for an intro level programming job, Erik was romanced by
Electronic Data Systems (EDS)—headed by Ross Perot at the time—and because they sought him out and offered
a higher salary than other prospects, Erik accepted that job and launched what has now become a 24 year career
in application development (well, if you count his first programming contract while a sophomore at UNR, he's been
at this game for 26 years now) on platforms ranging from mainframes, mini computers, Unix workstations, and PCs,
in languages ranging from Cobol and dBase II and III, to Clipper, FoxPro, C, AWK, C++, Java, C# (.NET), and
most recently, Adobe Flex.
Erik has worked for a number of different companies, including Electronic Data Systems (EDS), System
Integrators, Inc., Applied Materials, Bertelsmann Industry Services, Scientific Software, Inc., TRAKWare, Inc.,
Kaiser Permanente, EMC|Documentum, Inc., and most recently, Intuit, Inc.
And of course, Erik never stopped developing his music as a member of various bands, a hobby that has helped
him stay sane throughout the years!
PRtrak, a short story
One of the more interesting aspects of Erik's career in software
development was when he formed TRAKware, Inc. with his PR Professional
sister Angie Jeffrey and her PR Professional husband Mitch Jeffrey, and
created an application for measuring Public Relations media coverage. Erik
quit his job and worked for nearly 18 months to
produce PRtrak by
himself, an application that was being used by more than 120 companies by
the time the three of them sold the company about 5 years later.
PRtrak, which is currently
owned by VMS, Inc. and
still going strong today—years later—is one of the leading
publicity measurement tools used by the PR industry today! This is a
tremendous testimony to the hard work Angie Jeffrey did to single-handedly
pioneer add-value equivalency as a respected methodology in an industry
that was very unfriendly to the concept. Angie currently works at VMS, continuing to evangelize add-value equivalency
to the PR industry as it slowly embraces this means of measuring the
value of publicity.
Erik created PRtrak using C++ with the Microsoft Foundation Classes (MFC)
and Objective Grid libraries. PRtrak was fully multi-user, supporting both peer-to-peer and
client-server topologies with up to 25 simultaneous users. Erik also used MFC internet
classes to access a server across the internet that
calculated ad value equivalency from a huge database containing all of
Nielsen's survey data (TV), Arbitron's survey data (Radio), and ad cost
data for nearly all the newspapers and magazines throughout the U.S.
Angie was able to broker exclusive agreements for this data—an unheard of
accomplishment for a 3-person company—from Nielsen, Arbitron, SRDS, etc.,
and Erik wrote programs that read 9-track magnetic tape (yeah, like you
see in Time Tunnel and other ancient science fiction programs), and
coerced the data into tables for calculating the value of a given PR news
story (whether it appeared on TV, Radio, Newspaper, or Magazine) in terms
of what it would have cost in advertising based on placement, duration (TV
and Radio), or column inches (Newspaper and Magazine). It also provided
the means to use several qualitative measurements in the calculations.
Erik also wrote the PRtrak user guide and was the entire technical
support department, handling all support calls by himself. He supported
approximately 200 users across 120 companies by the time the company was
sold. This was quite a testament to the quality of his software since the
support call load averaged 1 support incident per day, and the most
frequent root cause was company firewall settings that prevented internet
access to the data server.
Sadly, Erik's code is no longer in use. The acquiring company jumped on
the web bandwagon and rewrote it as a web application. But Erik took some
pleasure in the knowledge that it took them longer to copy
his desktop application than it took Erik to design and implement it from
scratch, and they had a much larger team and greater investment capital.
If you are a PR professional, PRtrak is still the market leader for
affordably helping PR professionals like you determine the value of your
work. If this is you, check out the current version of
PRtrak and give
Erik's sister a call:
The Leader in Integrated Media Intelligence Solutions
APR Vice President Editorial Research
Member, IPR Commission on PR Measurement & Evaluation
1500 Broadway, 6th Floor New York, NY 10036
(212) 329-5292 (fax)
To contact Erik or Barbara, or to provide feedback about the site, send email to:
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