Special guest artists announced for Richard Thompson’s birthday bash

Richard Thompson
Photograph courtesy of Mojo magazine

An incredible array of special guest performers has been announced for Richard Thompson’s 70th birthday celebration show at London’s Royal Albert Hall on September 30th 2019. This once in a lifetime concert will see eminent fellow musicians, friends and family grace the stage to mark the milestone birthday of this iconic and much respected artist.

Joining Richard Thompson on an exceptional night will be: Alistair Anderson, Ashley Hutchings, Bob Mould, Christine Collister, Danny Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Dave Pegg, David Gilmour, Derek Smalls (formerly of the band formally known as Spinal Tap), Eliza Carthy, Hugh Cornwell, Jack Thompson, James Walbourne, Judith Owen, Kami Thompson, Kate Rusby, Linda Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III, Maddy Prior, Marc Ellington, Martin Carthy, Olivia Chaney, Simon Nicol, Teddy Thompson and Zara Phillips.

The show sold out swiftly when it was announced in April. Look out for the release of last minute tickets: https://www.alttickets.com/richard-thompson-tickets

Richard Thompson’s enduring musical influence and accomplishments are unparalleled.  Having co-founded the ground-breaking group Fairport Convention as a teenager in the 1960s, he and his bandmates invented a distinctive strain of British folk rock.  He left the group by the age of 21, followed by a decade long musical partnership with his then-wife Linda, to over 30 years as a highly successful solo artist.  Thompson’s genre defying mastery of both acoustic and electric guitar along with engaging energy and onstage wit continue to earn him new fans and a place as one of the most distinctive virtuosos and writers in folk rock history.  Powered by evocative songcraft, jaw-dropping guitar playing, and indefinable spirit, this venerable icon holds a coveted spot on Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time” and counts Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Americana Music Association in Nashville and the UK Americana Music Association, a Lifetime Achievement Award from the BBC Folk Awards, a prestigious Ivor Novello Award and, of course, an OBE, among his many accolades.

A wide range of musicians have recorded Thompson’s songs including David Gilmour, Robert Plant, Elvis Costello, R.E.M., Sleater-Kinney, Del McCoury, Bonnie Raitt, Tom Jones, David Byrne, Don Henley, Los Lobos, and many more.  His massive body of work includes many Grammy nominated albums as well as numerous soundtracks, including Werner Herzog’s Grizzly Man.  Thompson’s latest album 13 Rivers (Proper Records) was released to widespread acclaim last September and appeared on many 2018 ‘best of the year’ lists. His accompanying tour was met with glowing reviews, including The Observer, in its Artist of the Week spread, who concluded, “Half a century after his first gig with Fairport Convention, folk-rocker Richard Thompson – trademark Stratocaster and beret intact – is as cool, energetic and contemporary as ever.”

Artist’s website: RichardThompson-Music.com

‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ – live and acoustic:

Refugee project introduced by Robin Adams

Refugee

Unreleased and original tracks from Bonnie Prince Billy,
Linda Thompson, Alasdair Roberts and more

All proceeds go to MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station)

Released on June 3rd 2016 through Brainfog Records

Refugee is a highly significant collaborative recording project which reflects, through song, the issue of the refugee crisis in its many forms, from Syria and beyond.

The concept came about from singer-songwriter Robin Adams who took on the challenging role of curator for this beautiful collection of music. Featuring the likes of folk familiars Linda Thompson, Bonnie Prince Billy, Rachel Sermanni, BMX Bandits, Richard Dawson and many more, each song stands with individual character, yet the delicate ties of each subject make this a well-formed and consistent body of work. As Adams says about the collection:

 “What amazes me is that every song works. Every song seems to fit the sentiment of the record effortlessly even though the songs vary largely in subject and spirit.”

A poignant and moving assembly of songs, the album contains perspectives from different visions in the crisis. Focusing in on the issues addressed, the subject matter leans toward one particular area of the refugee’s journey – the daring move to cross the oceans. From the warm home recording of ‘Scarce of Fishing’ by Alasdair Roberts, to Richard Dawson’s chanting ‘To The Sea’, and to Adam’s own beautiful contribution ‘The Devil’s War and God’s Blue Sea’ (the single which spawned the initial concept), the topic keeps surfacing as a reminder of the overall cause – to raise money for MOAS, whose rescue missions operate in the Aegean, Andaman and Mediterranean Sea.

“The first and foremost priority should be getting these people safely to dry ground and so MOAS was always the obvious choice. Their work has already saved around 12,000 lives in the first two years. All of the money made from this album will go straight to MOAS to aid them in saving more lives… Although the motivation for the record was primarily sparked by the Syrian crisis, there are so many other Countries enduring humanitarian crises, so the record is really dedicated to all refugees.”

Here are some further details on the project from the curator of the project and contributor, Robin Adams.

“Around the beginning of last year I found myself increasingly disturbed by a growing number of reports from many reputable independent media outlets, not only describing the horror of the Syrian crisis itself but also a shocking lack of coverage in the mainstream media. What little coverage there was I found to be deeply troubling given the insensitive nature of the reporting.

All of this moved me to write a song that directly addressed the problem. The obvious thing to do was to release it digitally via Bandcamp as a charity single to raise money for MOAS At the time [of the single], the severity of the crisis hadn’t quite resonated with the general public, because it simply wasn’t being reported frequently or clearly enough in the mainstream media. Months later there was a shift in awareness after [the media] published heartbreaking photographs in September 2015 of Syrian toddler Aylan Kurdi washed ashore on a Turkish beach. That moment seemed to turn public perception on the crisis around very quickly.

It occurred to me that organising a charity album might be the best way I could help. I got in touch with anyone I could think of whose music I admired and asked if they’d be interested in contributing. I just asked if they’d like to write a song or contribute something new which they felt might be fitting. The response was wonderful and it just grew from there.”

MOAS website: https://www.moas.eu/

I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn – the acoustic Sandy Denny

I've Always Kept A Unicorn

I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn is the best album that the late Sandy Denny never made. This 40-track/2CD set, comprised of demos, live, radio and TV recordings, captures the sublimely gifted British singer-songwriter at her most intimate as she runs through stripped down arrangements of songs she performed with the Strawbs, Fairport Convention, Fotheringay and The Bunch, along with material from her four solo albums.

Exclusive to this masterful set are three demos recorded at Richard Branson’s Manor Studios in December 1971 for the 1972 rock and roll covers album, The Bunch Rock On; alongside ‘Love Made A Fool Of You’ and ‘Learning The Game’ by one of her teenage heroes, Buddy Holly, she sings a charming duet with Linda Thompson on Phil Everly’s ‘When Will I Be Loved’.

The set comes complete with sleeve notes by Mick Houghton, the author of the critically lauded 2015 Sandy Denny biography, I’ve Always Kept A Unicorn.

All those who knew Sandy Denny well, and who worked closely with her, recall how brilliant she was as a solo acoustic performer and many welcome this compilation as fitting homage to her unique and true talent.

“Sandy was, as are our most brilliant performers, much better solo; I so wish she had recorded a solo album, and told her so.”  (Linda Thompson)

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THOMPSON – Family (Fantasy FAN36392)

ThompsonAfter last year’s Linda Thompson album saw a family gathering of sorts, in as much as her children, Teddy and Kami, son-in-law James, grandson Zak and ex-husband Richard, as well as his other son, Jack, variously featured on different tracks, this, as the title suggests, is much more of a united reunion. Conceived as a means of putting the family back together, Teddy contacted parents and siblings with the proposal that each should contribute two songs to the project, which he would orchestrate and produce. Everyone duly responded, writing and recordings their songs at their individual bases, which were then forwarded around the clan for overdubs, before coming together for four days in London and New York for the final recordings. They weren’t all in the room at the same time, something that might have well-tested Richard and Linda’s cautious rapprochement, but, if it wasn’t a full reunion in the flesh, it was certainly one in terms of emotion and spirit.

Embracing an overall Thompson-esque folk-rock sensibility, Teddy kicks the album off with the strumalong title track’s upfront dose of confessional therapy as, as well as referencing his own romantic implosion, he admits to the self-doubt that, can come from having parents, one of whom is “one of the greatest to ever step on a stage” and the other “has the most beautiful voice in the world”, and, as he says Sean Lennon will well know, never being quite able to be your own person, never quite able to deal with the pain. He shouldn’t beat himself up, like his own past albums and the material he wrote for mom, the song clearly shows the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, though it would be understandable if his older sister, Muna was not best pleased by the line about how Kami “is prettier still”.

Like his dad, rock‘n’roll is also in Teddy’s blood, hence his other song, ‘Right’, a country boogie kiss-off you could imagine Dave Edmunds doing where those Roy Orbison echoes sound out. Richard’s own numbers, on which, as per Teddy’s scheme of thing, he cedes electric guitar to either Jack or James, highlight his stylistic diversity, ‘One Life At A Time,’ a swipe at people sticking their nose into others’ business, sounds curiously like Creedence’s ‘Almost Saturday Night’, while ‘That’s Enough’, with its soaring family harmonies and a lyric about the “fairy dust” and “pie in the sky” politicians keep dishing out, is firmly in the tradition of those early R&L swayalong folk rock anthems.

Zack and Jack provide a track each, the former the fingerpicking 60s folk blues ‘Root So Bitter’ and the latter ‘At The Feet Of The Emperor’, a brooding five minute guitar and bass showcase, while Kami, though initially reluctant to enter what she felt could well prove the songwriting equivalent of a pissing contest,   has two credits, one solo and one with her husband. The second, which closes the album, is the rather lovely Gram and Emmylou-like yearning acoustic ballad ‘I Long For Lonely’ while the first, ‘Careful’, is a sprightly, poppy, ringing guitar (that’ll be dad) rocker of a Buckingham-Nicks persuasion. It also confirms her reservations about the competitive element in that it apparently prompted Linda to go back and rework one of her two songs in order not to be overshadowed.

Not that was ever much danger of that since, good as the second and third generation may be, it’s the parents, if only by dint of experience, shine brightest, her piano-accompanied, achingly vulnerable hymnal ‘Perhaps We Can Sleep’ and the acoustic guitar backed ‘Bonny Boys’, a mother’s heartfelt and hard won advice to her son about finding love, providing the album’s most potent emotional charge. Although the Thompsons may give the lie to the old adage (and Spirit album title) that the family that plays together stays together, the album is fulsome evidence that the bonds are far greater than the divides.

Mike Davies

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Buying through Amazon on folking.com helps us to recover a small part of our running costs, so please order anything you need as every little purchase helps us.

Artists’ websites: www.teddythompson.com www.richardthompson-music.com www.lindathompsonmusic.com