A huge outpouring of love and respect this week as one of the most gifted musicians to ever come out of Rhode Island, Thom Enright, passed away at the age of 59. Jorge (Rudy Cheeks) had the honor of playing in three bands with Thom and any number of pickup groups and can tell you that every note he played was true.
This Sunday will be the inaugural induction ceremony for the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame at the Met in Pawtucket (see "The first class: The Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame's 2012 inductees"). And Thom will, in fact, be the most honored musician at that event. He was a member of the seminal Tombstone Blues Band lineup (Ken Lyon, the band's leader, is being inducted) as well as Roomful of Blues and John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, two other honorees.
Thom was also a key member of Jorge's band, the Young Adults, first on bass and then guitar. Those were great years. Jorge liked to ride to and from gigs with Thom because a) he was an excellent driver and b) Jorge knew they wouldn't stop for food at Chicken City on the way back from Newport; both knew that would just be inviting ptomaine poisoning.
Jorge is sure that Thom was a bit skeptical about playing in the Adults. After all, he was a pure musician and this was tantamount to joining the circus. Much to J.'s surprise (and delight), Thom got right in the spirit of things and would don fishnet stockings on stage. This was a wise choice considering he had the best legs in the band.
When the Young Adults initially broke up (the band, in truth, never really broke up — it just took a decade-long breather), he encouraged Jorge to get back into the rehearsal studio with him and write some more songs. This was the short-lived Rudy Cheeks & the Works band that featured a second guitar player that Thom knew, Chris Vachon, who is now the leader of Roomful of Blues. It was short-lived because Duke Robillard swooped in and cherrypicked Thom and Tom DeQuattro for his Pleasure Kings which, at least, provided a steady paycheck for Thom for the next few years.
Being a working musician is a tough grind — and, for his entire life, that's all Thom did except for a few stints of T-shirt making and shuttle bus driving to help keep his ass alive. Yes, Thom was a master at keeping on keeping on. Since he knew every musician in the area and beyond, he could throw together a band in about two hours and play wherever there was a gig to be had. When a band had a bass player or guitarist fall ill or mysteriously disappear for a week or two (as musicians sometimes do), Thom would be the first guy to be called.
He played with virtually everybody, in any style. He would alternate on guitar with the late, great Paul "Dobbs" Murphy in James Montgomery's band and then play that New Orleans stuff with Keith Munslow and the Superchief Trio.