Porch rockin’

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Thompson Ward is a band that thrives on compromise. Steve Thompson and Bryan Ward don’t see eye to eye on a lot of things, from music to politics. Somehow, the two find a way to play off of their differences and use their common ground to its highest potential to make a kind of music they call “porch funk.”
“Steve and I are on opposite spectrums on what we like. He digs funk and he digs Lynyrd Skynyrd, so he’s a Mississippi boy with those mixtures,” Ward said. “I’m from Baltimore, originally, and in my opinion The Beatles and Led Zeppelin are everything.”
Somewhere in the middle is Thompson Ward’s loud and rowdy music, which blends funk, country, rock and blues. The guys call it “porch funk,” and that’s what they named their latest album.

Spiritual sounds
Ward and Thompson met in 1997.
Ward’s band, Bonepony, had a record deal based in Nashville, and Thompson caught a show.
“He liked what he heard and he invited us to play in Mississippi. Of course, I didn’t even know where Mississippi was at that point,” Ward said, laughing. “We made our way down here, and later on, Thompson explained to me about Jesus, and I didn’t want to be in the band anymore.”
Ward left Bonepony but kept in touch with Thompson, and eventually moved to Water Valley, where the band calls home.
Thompson then asked Ward to produce an album for him.
“It became pretty obvious it wasn’t a Steve Thompson record. It was strongly both of ours,” Ward said.
Thompson Ward was born, and now the guys thrive on playing live shows.
The guys’ live show is full of personality; they’re not afraid to discuss religion or politics.
“Steve leans a little bit more to the right and I lean a little more to the left, but I don’t think either of us are associated with a political party. … There’s a lot of references to Jesus, as well. We’re both Jesus guys,” Ward said. “Yeah, it’s rowdy. You know, I actually play a saw live.”
The guys are happy to play anywhere.
“I play music at the Parchman Penitentiary, and I get Steve to go along with me. We have a bunch of spiritual songs that have been influenced by the penitentiary,” he said.
Thompson Ward hopes to make an album full of these songs.
“We’re gonna stomp on boards and get on harmonicas,” he said.
Ward invites music fans to give the duo’s “porch funk” a try at the GumTree Festival.
“If somebody really just wants to come and free themselves in the music, just let go for a little while and hear a bunch of different genres mixed up and a lot of great spiritual energy, this is definitely what you want to come to.”

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