Q&A June 2012, Part II

Hi Richard: On June the 15th I had the extreme pleasure of meeting Joe Boyd. My seat for Kate McGariggle's tribute show at Massey Hall was directly beside the sound board. I noticed this very cool debonair man whispering into the sound mixers ear every now and then and brought about my curiosity to whom he was. Alas when he said Joe Boyd I was flabbergasted. He did produce some fine moments in your musical history and was wondering what you could tell us about the great Joe Boyd. Be fun to hear some stories or a story and I think Hand of Kindness is one of many high points in your career as well as replacing Gerry Rafferty's mix in Shoot Out The Lights. He told me he is turning 70 soon and still has a youthful glow about him and watching his face light up in those special music moments he is still very much into great music. Thanks Richard. Greg Viner - Toronto Canada

From my perspective, Joe is one of the most important people in music, and has been for the last 50 years. If you read his book, White Bicycles, you come to realize that he was in the right place at the right time more than almost anyone else; but achieving that isn't luck, it's knowing what's truly good at the time it's going down, and wanting to be close to it. Without Joe, would we have heard Nick Drake? The Incredible String Band? Maybe Fairport would have found a record deal somewhere, but the chances of being produced by someone sympathetic are very slim. Most of the good Boyd stories are in the book, of course. I'm just grateful for Joe's existence, and I'm glad we still do the odd project together.

Good day, I'm a huge Richard Thompson fan from Italy and I write to you for brief information. Probably you've been asked this millions of times, but: is there ever going to be a DVD release of Cabaret of Souls? Thank you and best regards. Vittorio Bonzi

We have a CD due to come out this Autumn, but no DVD yet. We hope this might be something that fits PBS programming.

What with your having featured a silver band on I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight and Georgie on a Spree (and maybe others I can't think of at the moment), I wonder if you've heard any of the collaboration between The Unthanks and Brighouse and Rastrick Brass Band and, if so, any views on it? Do you ever think of recording again with a completely different line-up from the usual electric band - say, all acoustic, (mandolin, fiddle, accordion etc) or a brass band? James Howard

I grew up listening to brass and silver bands, and love the sound and skill level. I used quartets and quintets on many recordings. The Unthanks project is great, and I'm always glad to see genres and traditions overlapping. I'd love to do more with brass, and several tracks on my next CD are with all-acoustic band. For the immediate future, it's going to be the electric trio.

Congratulations on the Kings winning the Stanley Cup! (Of course, the Cup Finals would have been better if the Rangers had been the Kings' opponent, although no doubt the outcome would have been the same!)  How many of the games did you attend and did you have good seats at Staples? I'm also curious to know how a cricket/football/rugby playing Englishman became such a rabid hockey fan!

See above regarding attendance. As to how and why hockey - well, I never could get into North American sports. Without getting into 'my sport's better than your sport' stuff, I think what you grow up with makes more sense to you, and cricket and soccer and rugby are more my cup of tea. I watched a bit of hockey on TV in the 60s. when the fairly poor UK league was shown every Saturday afternoon. Cut to 90s Los Angeles: Bob Borgen, producer of the Kings broadcasts for FOX TV, and a huge music fan, hears that the McGarrigles are in town, and invites them down to the Forum to sing the Canadian anthem before the game - I assume Montreal were playing. Pat Donaldson, bass player, who was in Fotheringay, my band, Sandy's band, and whom I worked with on scores of sessions in the 70s, was living with Kate, became friends with Bob, and would get tickets to games whenever he was in LA. One time, he took me along - this was when LA had Gretsky, and were a good team. I met Bob, and started to watch games and become a fan. Thanks to Bob's kindness, we've had the lion's share of season tickets the last couple of seasons. Me being a fan is not so strange - my wife being transformed into a rabid fanatic, however, is very disturbing.

Aside from the frenetic pace of recording 16 songs in four days, how was the overall experience of working with Buddy Miller? Did you enjoy your time in Nashville? Was the ambience of Buddy's home studio particularly conducive to inspired performances by you and the band? Any highlights of the sessions that you can mention without giving away any surprises?

It never for a moment felt frenetic. A couple of tracks a day would have been wonderful, but somehow we just got through it quickly - lots of first and second takes! Buddy is a great musical colleague, very sympathetic to the project. I enjoyed being in Nashville, but all I saw of it was Buddy's house, the Greek sandwich shop around the corner (very good) and briefly the offices of our new management, Vector. Many musical highlights, and I hope you'll agree with that opinion when you hear it.

In addition to your usual arsenal of electrics and the Lowden, did you play any other guitars on the new record, e.g., some of Buddy's "unorthodox guitar choices"?

I did grab a Guild Excelsior off the wall, and used it on 2 tracks. Taras played a Gibson mandocello on one tune.

Going back to your Town Hall show in NYC last fall with the young phenom Sarah Jarosz as your opening act, are you encouraged that there enough musicians of her generation to keep traditional roots music alive and well in the 21st century? As always, thank you, Richard! Cheers, Doug from NYC

Always great to see young folks connected to the tradition. It goes in cycles a bit, but this seems a good time. Sarah is wonderful.