PACKRAT’S SMOKEHOUSE IS A FLORIDA SWAMP BLUES BAND OUT OF NEW SMYRNA BEACH, FL. THE BAND WAS CREATED BY ANTHONY “PACKRAT” THOMPSON IN 1989.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find a more authentic American blues band today than Packrat’s Smokehouse. These veterans have been in the swamp for a couple of decades now and, like good thick swamp ooze, just get better with age. If you want REAL blues at your event or venue, be smart and put these men on the bill. Hammercy!”
— Gary Erwin (Shrimp City Slim) - Carolina Downhome Blues Festival (Camden, SC)
Packrat's Smokehouse House had the crowds talking several weeks after...... These guys will take you from church down into the alley in a matter of minutes..... Can't miss this crowd favorite........
Gil Anthony... Blues Power Radio Host / KBA recipient / Wiregrass Blues Festival
Their songs tell tales of old Florida Legends, Folklore and Ghost Stories of days gone by & blues classics.
Anthony “Packrat” Thompson and Robert “Lightning Boy”Thomas(aka Top), are founding members of the 4 piece swamp blues band Smokehouse which formed in 1989 in New Smyrna Beach, Fl. Specializing in Florida Swamp Blues, they are powered by the songwriting, storytelling, lead vocals, harmonica, guitar and percussion of leader, “ Packrat”. Born in Lake Helen, Florida and raised in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, “Packrat’s” exposure to the blues came at an early age due to his mother Willie B. Spellars interest in the blues greats. Listening to the records of John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed and Howlin’ Wolf and hitting the juke joints and roadhouses in South Florida which featured live blues entertainment, made this music just part of everyday life. But the music of Sonny Boy Williamson is what influenced “Packrat” the most as a young man and sent him in the direction of being a musician.
“Packrat” began his professional career as a drummer in the south Florida area in the 70’s where he and Robert Thomas met as members of a local soul band. But “Packrat” soon gave up the drums in favor of the harmonica and years later it was a common interest in roots blues music that brought he and Robert together again when Smokehouse was originally formed in the fall of 1989. Then in ‘95 the name changed to “Packrat’s Smokehouse” and to this day the group is known across the world for its music- Florida Swamp Blues(by Men of the Swamp).
Robert Thomas-vocals and guitar. A native of New Smyrna Beach, Florida, Robert has played the Florida club circuit since 1973. As guitarist-vocalist for the popular Central Florida band, “The Payne Brothers Band”, his first musical efforts were in the southern rock tradition. A collector of vintage blues records, his interest in traditional South-Eastern blues grew along with his desire to play in this style. In the spring of 1987 he formed “Town Crier” and recorded several sides for King Snake Records featuring performances by Kenny Neal and Lucky Peterson of Alligator Records. His association with King Snake Records led to an introduction to legendary Lazy Lester and participation in Lester’s 1988 tour as his guitarist and opening act. Robert can be heard on the Alligator release of Lazy Lester’s “Harp and Soul”. In 1989, Robert toured the East Coast blues club circuit with the Florida blues quartet “Blue House”, which frequently featured the legendary Noble “Thin Man” Watts on saxophone. Now with Packrat’s Smokehouse, he continues to serve up Florida Swamp Blues.
Aaron “Pop” Watson- drums, vocals. Aaron, known to most as “Ba-Bro”, began playing playing drums as a youngster in his hometown, Daytona Beach, Florida and joined SMOKEHOUSE in 1993. At the age of 15 he began playing the nightclub circuit with his band director, Gideon Pettway. As a teenager, he also played in bands for high school proms both in and out of town. Deemed the best drummer in the area and the teacher of many locals, including John Livingston, Lorenzo Laws, Leroy “Bo Pete” Robinson, Robert Popwell, The Johnson Brothers of Deland, Florida and son Aaron L. Aaron’s professional career can be traced playing in the officer’s club while in the Army to “drumming” for recording greats, Rufus Thomas, Joe Simon, Joe Davis’ revival group, Wilbur Harrison, The Drifters, Betty Swann, Arthur Conley, Bill Stewart, Ollie Woodson(The Temptations) and others. Having been a member of The American Federation of Musicians, Aaron has made stage appearances with Gary Puckett and the Union Gap and Martha and the Vandellas to name a few. On the homefront, Aaron played beachside for many years with The Duke Gainous Quartet, Lawrence
“Bird” Burdine, Lindsay Morris and The Universals and several other local jazz and pop bands. Kenny “The Wizard” Sly-bass guitar and vocals. Born in New York City, NY in 1961. Kenny began playing guitar at the age of 9 but switched to trumpet after his older brother broke his electric guitar. Soon, Kenny started playing trumpet in middle and high school band but saw a Live Funk group playing which caused him to pick up the bass in 1976. His influences range from the blues to funk heavy metal and even Latin and reggae. Kenny got his professional start with music playing with bands on military bases on the island of Puerto Rico. After years of playing in the Daytona area, in 1995 he joined SMOKEHOUSE as the newest member and has been with the band ever since.