About Us

Old State Travelers is an Americana band based out of Raleigh, North Carolina. The band combines a soulful blend of folk, country, blues, Celtic, bluegrass and gospel. Songwriters, Kevin Michael Thompson and Shannon McLaughlin formed the group with the intent of being an old-time string band.  However, when they began playing together as a group it was quickly apparent that the music wanted to go in another direction.  The music ranges from Gypsy-Jazz inspired tunes to Civil War ballads to Irish pub songs to hymns and standards. Each member of the group has a unique background and musical outlook that brings depth and variety to Old State Travelers. 

Kevin Michael Thompson brings a blues and soul sound to the band. Kevin  is a prolific songwriter and performer. In addition to writing and releasing his own music-most notably the 2015 release, Good News in These Bad Times and the 2018 release, Ghosts From Two Towns Over-his music has been featured on television shows Pawn Stars, American Pickers, What Not to Wear, and many more. You can find out more about Kevin and listen to his music at www.kmtmusic.com

Shannon McLaughlin grew up listening to traditional country music and singing in the church choir. His clean vocal style is reminiscent of country artists from the forties and fifties. He often plays a Nashville or (high strung tuning) guitar that adds depth and fullness to the band’s sound. Some of Shannon's recent songs are the anthemic, Cowboy Ride and the pensive ballad, Rusty  Old Helmet. An avid outdoorsman, Shannon finds songwriting inspiration in the deer stand or while reclaiming barnwood and other vintage treasures. He recently built an electric guitar from a one hundred year old pew. 

Lauren Elder comes from a musical theatre background- working in theaters across the country and as a vocalist for Norwegian and Oceania cruise lines. Since ‘retiring’ from gig life, she’s enjoyed singing wherever she can- so she thanks Old State Travelers for having her!

Jeff Severt is equally at home playing everything from bluegrass to melodic rock. A North Carolina native, Jeff grew up in a home steeped in bluegrass and mountain music.  His father, David Severt was a gifted instrumentalist that graced  hundreds of festival and convention stages throughout the southeast. Growing up in this environment, Jeff learned several instruments as well as how to find a harmony quickly. As a teen, Jeff ventured into rock music and other genres and skillfully fuses his influences into any musical project that he is a part of.

Chip Kelly plays the five-string banjo, and brings influences from Earl Scruggs, Bill Keith, Alan Munde, and Jerry Garcia to  Old State Travelers. Chip has deep Bluegrass and jam band roots, and played in the Dawson String Band, from Dawson Springs, Kentucky, the Bass Lake Drifters from Holly Springs, NC., and Raleigh bands Better Off Dead, Terrapin Junction, and Brother Esau. From hard driving Scruggs-style rhythms to melodic and harmonic improvisations, Chip adds rhythmic textures to the Travelers’ set lists.

Kevin "Pops” Thompson a retired pastor, a guitar builder (American Icon) and the newest addition to Old State Travelers. As a teen, Pops learned how to play guitar by playing along with groups like Creedence Clearwater Revival and Grand Funk Railroad. As his musical tastes expanded to include bluegrass, folk, and Celtic music he taught himself banjo and mandolin.  
He is also a gifted songwriter penning dozens of songs that have been used by churches throughout the northeast. He also has a knack for writing catchy folk tunes such as, Little Piggy the plaintive, Kiss Me, My Love. 

The band is currently writing and recording new music and playing select dates throughout the Southeast. 


Kevin Michael Thompson: Vocals, Guitars  

Shannon McLaughlin: Vocals, Guitars  

Lauren Elder: Vocals

Jeff Severt: Bass, Vocals

Chip Kelly: Banjo, Bass

Kevin "Pops" Thompson : Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin