Trail Boss / Lead & harmony vocals / Bass
Tommy Nallie is the “Trail Boss” of the group, a title held by only three individuals before him. As Trail Boss Tommy is the official curator of the famous ‘Pioneer sound,’ with the responsibility of making sure that every audience experiences the beautiful harmony singing and repertoire that made the band world famous. Tommy’s connection to the band is deep: His brother Luther was with the group for over 45 years and was Trail Boss before Tommy, and his brother Jack and nephew John are also former members of the band.
Tommy grew up in Beaumont, Texas playing violin (he was the concertmaster of his high school orchestra) and bass in local bands with his brother Luther. After high school he played around Beaumont with some of the legends of Western Swing music, including Cliff Bruner and several former members of the Texas Playboys. After a tour of duty in the Navy Tommy returned to Texas having added guitar and drums to his resume and picked up right where he left off, touring across the country as a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. When not out on the road he worked in the recording studio and backing up various Nashville artists.
By this time Tommy was being asked to fill in with the Sons of the Pioneers whenever a member was absent. Then in May1983, Tommy got a call from Luther inviting him to Nashville where the band was doing a week-long series of concerts. Dale Warren asked Tommy to take over a set of drums that was on stage during the first show, and by the week’s end Dale had offered Tommy a position with the Pioneers. Dale and Luther taught Tommy the finer points of the Sons of the Pioneers vocal harmony sound. Tommy also was mentored on the guitar by Roy Lanham, perhaps the group’s best all-time lead guitar player. Tommy says, “It’s difficult to put into words how greatly honored I was to become a part of such a rich and impressive musical tradition.” Over the years Tommy has learned every part to all of the songs in the Pioneers’ repertoire and now he teaches them to any new member or substitute.
Tommy currently plays bass with the band, yodels and provides harmony. He also steps up and does a couple of vocal solos. He has made his home in several places over the Southwest but now resides in the Branson area.