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Family Ties

Clifton resident uses heritage, family to shape third album.

Randy Thompson can trace his Virginia lineage back a couple centuries. He brought this lineage and deep love of old-time country to his latest album, "Further On," released this year under Jackpot Records.

The Clifton resident’s third album draws its title from a poem Thompson found after his grandfather’s death. His grandfather, who had written the poem sometime around the 1920s, had not seemed like a man given to writing poetry, said Thompson. He set his grandfather’s words to music and recorded the song "Further On."

"From the golden land above us/To our weary hearts alone/Comes a voice of angel sweetness:/‘It’s better further on.’"

"Further On" features other family contributions as well. Colin Thompson, Robinson Secondary School student and award-winning guitarist, guest performs on several tracks of his father’s album, most notably with slide guitar on "Goin’ Down to Lynchburg Town" and "Don’t You See."

Don Helms, who played guitar in Hank Williams Sr.’s Drifting Cowboys, also guests on the album. Thompson grew up "obsessed" with Hank Williams Sr.’s music and Helms’ playing, and after a long time of gearing himself up to do it, called Helms on the phone and asked him to record. He said yes, and performed steel guitar on the album. Other performers include Rickie Simpkins, Alan Oresky, Andy Hamburger, Garrick Alden and Cindy Alden.

A lot has changed since Thompson released his last album, "That’s Not Me," in 2004, he said. Record stores and album-buying has morphed into iTunes and selecting singles for a playlist, said Thompson, and so he is using satellite radio and the Internet more to promote "Further On."

Some things remain the same, however. In his latest album, Thompson draws on a long heritage both musical and familial, combining it with new and old influences to create a roots country sound all his own.