Thao with The Get Down Stay Down is a San Francisco, California-based (formerly Falls Church, Virginia) alternative folk rock music group. It consists of Thao Nguyen (vocals, guitar), Adam Thompson (bass guitar), and Willis Thompson (drums). Frank Stewart (lead guitar, production) is a former member of the band.
Thao began playing guitar at age 12. She began performing and recording as an indie-folk duo with a high school friend, Brenna Clerkin. Raised in Falls Church, Virginia with her single mother, she often practiced her songs while working at her mother's laundromat. She often cites Lilith Fair as an inspiration for her desire to become a singer/songwriter. After recording an EP that differed from her initial style, she began performing as a soloist with her acoustic guitar.
Nguyen met drummer Willis Thompson while studying for her degrees in Sociology and Women’s Studies at The College of William and Mary. Willis Thompson was a member of Camp Tigerclaw, Acousticore, and Murphy's Kids. He is also a contributing member to the band The Light Footwork. Thao Nguyen and Willis Thompson met Adam Thompson (no relation) during a show at the Harrison Street Coffee Shop in Richmond, Virginia. At the time, Adam Thompson was performing as a solo jazz-influenced act under the moniker The OK Bird. Frank Stewart, member of the bands Durian and Verbal, would produce the first full-length album Like the Linen in 2005 and join the band as a lead guitarist. Although only Willis and Nguyen initially performed live on tour, the four members began touring as a group during the Kill Rock Stars' Sound the Hare Heard tour during the summer of 2006. The name of the band was originally suggested by a former bassist of the band. Nguyen would expand the initial suggestion of "The Get Down" to "The Get Down Stay Down". Thao Nguyen still occasionally performs as a soloist, including a European tour with Laura Veirs and the Tortured Souls in August 2006.
The band is managed by Slim Moon, former president of the Kill Rock Stars label.
After sending "Like the Linen" to Laura Veirs, Thao was able to get connected to Tucker Martine, Veirs' drummer and producer for The Decemberists and Sufjan Stevens. In August 2006, the group began recording with Martine in Seattle and released the album "We Brave Bee Stings And All" in January 2008. Thao Nguyen has since moved to San Francisco, California. The band toured in 2008 with Xiu Xiu, and separately with Rilo Kiley before heading out on their first headlining tour that summer.
In 2009, Thao appeared solo on the nationwide Hotel Cafe Tour. She collaborated with another Kill Rock Stars band, the Portland Cello Project, on their first album, "The Thao and Justin Power Sessions," released on June 9, 2009. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down released their second full-length album "Know Better Learn Faster" on October 13, 2009. Thao was joined by Andrew Bird on the title track "Know Better Learn Faster." The band toured the US with the Portland Cello Project and David Shultz and the Skyline in late 2009, and spent time touring the US and Europe in Winter/Spring 2010.
In early 2010, Thao performed with Mirah at the Noise Pop festival in San Francisco. The two later announced a 2010 North American tour, billed under the name Thao and Mirah With The Most of All. The two shared the stage to perform a collaborative set made up of each artist's respective songs. Thao provided backup vocals, guitar, banjo, and bongo drum percussion on Mirah's songs.
In May 2010, a video for the song "Body", directed by Dianna Agron of the television show Glee, debuted on the website of humanitarian organization Oxfam America, The video features a prelude of Thao and Dianna talking about their friendship, the making of the video, and their work on behalf of Oxfam.
Like the Linen (2005)
Daytrotter Sessions (2006)
We Brave Bee Stings and All (2008)
Know Better Learn Faster (2009)
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