Singer-songwriter Teddy Thompson is coming to Newport’s La Farge Arts Center (at the Newport Congregational Church) on Friday, February 24. Thanks to sponsor Newport Live, we’ve got a pair of tickets to the concert to give away. To enter, just e-mail Ken Abrams at email@example.com by Wednesday, February 22 at 5PM with “Thompson Tickets” in the subject line. To purchase tickets to the show, click here.
Thompson is returning to Newport for the first time in over two decades. He played the Newport Folk Festival, “the year that Dylan was on,” he noted in a recent phone interview. (Bob Dylan returned to the Festival in 2002 for the first time since his legendary 1965 appearance.)
Like many recording artists, Thompson dealt with the challenges the pandemic forced on the music industry. “My last record was called Heartbreaker Please, it was a pandemic baby,” he explained. “It was supposed to come out right at the beginning of the pandemic, but like so many other artists, we held it and held it, before we finally put it out. Then the record came out and I couldn’t tour. Of course, that’s what was happening all over.” Also during the pandemic, Thompson partnered with Jenni Muldaur on a four-song EP, a tribute to the duets of Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton. “We’re going to release it as a whole record next year,” he added.
Hard to label, Thompson’s music spans musical genres from folk to country, pop to rock. The Heartbreaker album is a good example, a folk-country-rock release with a steady beat. “I really don’t think of music in genres very much,” explained Thompson. “It’s always an outside opinion that tells me what a record sounds like, with the exception of something like classic country duets, cover songs, obviously that’s country music.”
“In my own work I tend to do it however I feel without thinking too much about what genre it is specifically,” said Thompson. “I do lean country quite a bit because that’s what I grew up with, that’s what I love. As a kid, I was enamored with 50s American country music, the Everly Brothers for example. Talk about genres, the Everly Brothers are not really country music; at the time, they were straight-ahead pop music, but those labels and people’s views change a bit. I was into Hank Williams and George Jones – all that stuff. I’m focused mainly on whether it’s a good song.”
He comes from a family of notable musicians, although he explained some falsehoods around his upbringing.
“It’s a common misconception which is understandable,” said the son of musicians Richard and Linda Thompson, “but I didn’t really grow up around a lot of musicians. My parents split up when I was six, their musical careers were just the first few years of my life. So I don’t remember much, with the exception of a couple of festivals where I remember being backstage in a station wagon in a sleeping bag. I was raised by my mum, who did a little bit of music, but not much. My upbringing was pretty normal and not just focused on music.”
“But my parents did have fantastic musical tastes,” Thompson continued. “It was the music that I listened to, that I had the good fortune of being exposed to. The Everly Brothers because my dad played them in the car for us. He was looking for something that he could stand to listen to that the kids liked. I really have them to thank for showing me a lot of different of music, to my mother for being a well-rounded interesting woman with great tastes. She took me to the opera and theater.”
Post-pandemic, he’s glad things are getting back to something close to normal.
“I think there’s a renewed appreciation on both sides, not just the music-goers, but for the performers too … speaking for myself but also people I know, it can be a slog sometimes being a touring, working musician … when it was gone I certainly felt I renewed appreciation and love of doing it. A bit of zest has been returned to the whole thing. The only downside, there was a huge backlog of everybody and their mother, brother everyone who’s ever picked up an instrument going on tour at the same time. I think we’re just about through that now.”