April/May Q&A, Part I
7/1/2009 (updated 7/13/2009)

We all relish the live shows and recordings because the songs are rarely the same as the original studio versions. Do you warn the band that you will be doing a 15 minute "Calvary Cross" or do they, as I fervently hope, just have to follow as best they can? Thank you for the music! Paul Cowan

There is, I think, the general assumption that a solo will be played, and that it might get long, but these things are not a fixed length. We played 'Calvary Cross' once at the Bottom Line, NYC, as a request, and I was the only person who knew it, but it's an easy one to shout the chords on.

I'm getting to a point in my sixth year of playing guitar where I'm beginning to be able to work out songs of my own accord, usually with the aid of chord charts, however, I've not been able to find anything on "Take Care the Road you Choose". I wondered whether you might be able to help. I've worked out that when you play it with a capo at the second fret you start with a D, then go to Em, but I could be totally wrong about that. So, I thought I'd better ask the master. Any help would be much appreciated, Casey

I play it in normal tuning, open position:

|| E / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / | B / / / | / / / / | E / / / | / / / / | repeat

| A / / / | / / / / | / / / / | E / / / | / / / / | repeat

| B / / / | A / / / | B / / / | A / / / | B / / / | A / / / | / / / / |

| E / / / | / / / / | / / / / | / / / / ||

Re: Live Warrior question for RT
Why not give us the equivalent of a whole show -25ish songs? Paul Cowan

We probably feel that that would be too repetitious - too many repeated songs from previous live CDs.

Would you please share any techniques you use before and after performances to keep your vocal chords intact during long tours. Special beverages? Recommended warm-up exercises? Throat-coating unguents from the local herbalist? As a vocalist myself, I often find it difficult to soothe the throat after an evening's exertions. Also, how long does it take you to get your singing voice back into shipshape following a hiatus? All good wishes, C. Ripley

I think we've had this question before, but to summarise: Keep the throat warm and moist. Suck on a Slippery Elm lozenge, drink a herbal infusion, wear a scarf when it's chilly. Honey and lemon is good. For emergencies, French's mustard taken neat can restore the voice, or the Neville Brothers go for Tabasco and lemon juice. Andalusian singers in Morrocco use honey and olive oil as a gargle. Opera singers eat a square of chocolate before singing, to line the throat and prevent tearing. To warm up, I sing along in the car to Gilbert and Sullivan, or Little Richard, or whatever. Scales and swoops - high notes to low notes - help me to open up the voice. No matter how hard I practice, singing live is always more intense, and sometimes I blow my voice out on a first gig.

How big a crew do you take on the road when you do solo gigs? Douglas Feinstein

Just one, although he is about six people. Simon Tassano, whom I've worked with since 1981, is tour manager and sound engineer, and a few other things, when the need arises.

How did the "Cabaret of Souls" project get started and what is the connection with Penn State? Thank you! Cheers, Douglas Alan Feinstein

This was a commission by the International Society Of Bassists, to write a piece that features the double bass. My piece is a song cycle, and the soloist is Danny Thompson. The ISB have their convention every two years, and this year it happens to be at Penn State.

I'm wondering if you would be able to help me. My Dad, Charlie, is a massive Richard Thompson fan and has seen him live many times, both during his solo career and with Fairport Convention. My Dad has set me a rather tricky task and that's to learn 'The Pitfall/The Excursion' on the mandolin. I can't find any tabulature for it anywhere on the Net, even for guitar, so was hoping if you could pass on the tabs???? I'd love to master it before November as it's my Dad's 60th birthday and would like to play it for him then! If you can help in anyway, we would be very grateful. All the best, Eleanor Ketley

I don't have TAB for it, but the notation is now on Catch Of The Day - hope this helps.

The Pitfall/The Excursion.pdf

I'm about to show my ignorance of Sufism and Mr. Thompson's music, but was the song 'One Door Opens' seems reminiscent of a sacred ceremony performed by Whirling Dervishes that I was privileged to witness. It's a great song for ecstatic dance.... was 'One Door Opens' influenced by Mr. Thompson's Sufi faith?

Probably more by medieval European music. But that's likely connected to Andalusian music, way back.

Are there any articles or writings by Mr. Thompson on Sufism?

No. I recommend Aisha Bewley's site for Maliki / Sufi viewpoints:

Aisha Bewley's Islamic Home Page