Matt Thomas was talking with a buddy a while back.
“He works in consulting or something, and he told me, ‘I go to work every day and people are mad, pissed off, complaining. But your job is to make people smile,’ ” recalled Thomas, a singer and guitarist in the acclaimed country band Parmalee. “I was like, ‘You’re right.’ That’s the best thing people could say about this job.”
Thomas promises plenty of smiles when he and his bandmates stop in the Tri-Cities for the Untapped Music Festival.
The event is May 13-14 in Kennewick.
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“We like to bring as much energy as we can to the stage,” Thomas said. “We try to make sure everybody has a good time. That’s what it’s all about.”
Produced by Townsquare Media, Untapped Music Festival — formerly called Untapped Blues & Brews Festival — brings together craft brews and blues, rock and country bands from the Northwest and beyond.
This year’s event will feature about 30 breweries, wineries and cider houses, plus well over a dozen bands.
It kicks off May 13 at Clover Island Inn and continues May 14 at the Benton County fairgrounds.
Parmalee will headline the country/rock stage on closing night.
The platinum-selling group is known for hits including Close Your Eyes and Carolina. Its latest single, Roots, dropped earlier this month.
Parmalee is a family band, with Thomas’ brother, Scott, on drums, and cousin Barry Knox on bass and vocals. Lifelong friend Josh McSwain plays guitar and sings.
Matt and Scott, who hail from North Carolina, grew up watching their father make music. They would jam with their dad’s Southern rock blues band, eventually rotating into the lineup.
In 2001, they formed their own band with Knox and McSwain. Parmalee is named for Parmele, N.C., the tiny town where the band rehearsed.
The guys began winning fans and accolades, but in 2010, a scary incident almost derailed Parmalee’s success.
The Thomas brothers were held up at gunpoint while loading their RV after a show.
We try to make sure everybody has a good time. That’s what it’s all about.
Matt Thomas, singer and guitarist in country band Parmalee
“The men put a gun to Matt’s head and demanded money. Shots were fired. Scott, who possessed a concealed weapons license, fired back,” the band’s website says.
One of the gunmen died. Scott was shot three times, spending more than a month in the hospital, including 10 days in a coma.
“It’ll never be behind us,” Matt Thomas said of the incident.
But, “we’re here and we’re happy to be here. We’re very fortunate,” he said, adding that the experience bonded the group together even more tightly.
Parmalee has toured with Jake Owen and Brad Paisley, played on late night TV and been featured in publications such as USA Today.
The band is scheduled to perform at 9:30 p.m. May 14 in Kennewick. Other acts set to play the country/rock stage range from Brewer’s Grade to Colorblind to Kate Turner.
The acclaimed Los Angeles blues band The Delgado Brothers will play the blues stage that night, along with acts from Little Bill & The Blue Notes to Hamilton Loomis.
Commander Cody will headline the May 13 show at Clover Island Inn.
The acclaimed Los Angeles blues band The Delgado Brothers will play the blues stage May 14, along with acts from Little Bill & The Blue Notes to Hamilton Loomis.
Matt Thomas said he looks forward to playing the Tri-Cities with Parmalee.
He loves the entire music-making process, from songwriting to performing. But watching audience members erupt into smiles, watching them sing along to every word — there’s nothing like it.
“That’s got to be the ultimate,” he said.
The festival’s full schedule is available at www.untappedblues.com. The event is for people 21 and older.
Tickets are $20 in advance or at the gate for the May 13 show, and $35 in advance and $40 at the gate for the May 14 festival.
A two-day pass is $50, and a VIP package is $80. Prices don’t include service fees.
Drink scrips are 10 for $20. Proceeds from alcohol sales will go to the Girls on the Run, a nonprofit that works with girls on self-esteem, character-building and empowerment through running.
Advance tickets to the Untapped Music Festival are available at www.untappedblues.com.
IF YOU GO
What: Untapped Music Festival.
When and where: The festival kicks off May 13 at Clover Island Inn, 435 N. Closer Island Drive, and continues May 14 at the Benton County fairgrounds, 1500 S. Oak St., both in Kennewick.
Gates open at 5 p.m. May 13 and at noon May 14.
Cost: Tickets are $20 in advance or at the gate for the May 13 show, $35 in advance and $40 at the gate for the May 14 show. A weekend pass is $50 and a VIP package is $80, including dinner and more.
Advance tickets are available at www.untappedblues.com or through Eventbrite.
Drink scrips are 10 for $20.