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Fan Questions and Answers
9/3/2003 (updated 10/11/2003)

What can we expect from the upcoming London and Chicago ‘1000 Years’ presentations? Will it follow the cd format? Will there be additional material? Will the show be recorded? What about plans for other dates/other cities?

I think the ‘1000 Years’ shows will be similar to the CD, but with some variations – a lot depends on rehearsal time. We hope to do a real ‘tour’ of this show, possibly Autumn 2004, in the US and Europe.

In an interview with Terri Gross on NPR you played a beautiful rendition of Shenandoah. You said that you had researched the song and found Shenandoah was actually about a river by that name in Iowa. Please speak of the song and tell us the source of your information.

Much to the chagrin of people in Virginia, it does seem more logical that the area off the Missouri is the original Shenandoah. There’s nothing definitive in the earliest versions – I found one from about 1840, and the song may date from the early 1800s –so it will always, I think, be a matter for speculation – but logically, the singer goes from Shenandoah down the Missouri to the ocean (the ‘Daughter’ of the river) and enjoys a seafaring life, and works the capstan to this nostalgic shanty.

What’s this we hear about an upcoming live band DVD recorded at Lupo’s? When will it be released? Will it be available through Beesweb?

The band was taped at Lupo’s, for an upcoming DVD release. This will be on Cooking Vinyl, fairly soon we hope, and I’m sure our website will be able to steer you or click you through to the outlet.

We love "News from Home". Have you thought of writing fiction?

News From Home, of course, is the opposite of fiction – a dry rendering of the facts only, so I don’t know if I’d do well at the made-up stuff – doesn’t it seem like an awful lot of work to write a novel? And isn’t it taking up a vast amount of other people’s time, so you’d better make sure you’re Jane Austen before you get into all that stuff?

Tell us about the “So Damn Happy” experience with LWIII. Loudon recently gave an interview and when asked about you, said: “He’s the lightest, happy-go-luckiest guy--but not smiley faced, he's got a real edge to him. But he's very funny. He does wonderful impressions, and can do entire Monty Python bits—“ Do you have comedic aspirations?! What Python skits are your favorite?

Well, I just sat in for a few songs at Largo in Hollywood, and playing with Loudon is a breeze anyway, and I think some of his best recorded work is live – except of course for those fabulously good albums which I produced…I really don’t do Monty Python voices, I was probably just trying to speak normally. I have no comic aspirations, except when speaking to tax officials and customs officers.

Please tell us about your recent work with Chrissie Hynde “ In the Bleak Midwinter” recorded for the new Blind Boys Christmas Album. “Go Tell It On the Mountain” to be released by Real World Records on 16 September.

A great thrill to play with the Blind Boys, the last of the wonderful gospel groups of the Fifties, and I’ve always liked Chrissie Hynde – sadly we were in the studio at different times, so I didn’t see her – we sat at the same table at Billy Connolly’s 60th bash, but I think my kilt may have killed off any potential for conversation.

Any new projects with Danny Thompson coming down the pike? How is Danny doing?

I hope Danny and I can do a project in the near future, but nothing planned. His health is pretty good these days, he was bowling tidily at Abingdon Vale, although his snooker game is a little below par, and Watford’s recent form has severely depressed him.

Please share your secrets of "One Door Opens”. Tuning. Key. Instruments.

Nothing very secret – guitar has ‘dropped D’ tuning, and I play the line on the 4th string only, keeping the A as a drone all through the 1st section. Section 2 in D, using root, 5th and 3rd above for a close harmony sound. Section 3, more of an open, Travis-type picking pattern, playing melody and roots. Section 4, instrumental, in E min., playing melody in low octaves. Other instruments in unison are Mandolin and Appalachian dulcimer.

Why is it that English cricket has failed to produce quality spinners since the demise of Emburey, Edmonds and Tufnell? Giles' current "form" only seems to re-inforce the view that one of England's historical strengths is in terminal decline.

Jim Laker and Derek Underwood bowled on uncovered wickets, and Jack Hobbs batted on them, so there’s something to be said for that…modern spinners get very little encouragement in the UK, so it’s no wonder they are nearly extinct.

When and where will we hear recorded versions of some of your live performances pieces such as "Hamlet / Dog Eat Dog in Denmark" and ‘I Ain’t Marching Anymore”. Will they be on upcoming live cds or perhaps even as Beewsweb downloads?

There should be an outlet for some of those live things. We have talked about it, so let me get on the case a little more.

What kind of electric guitar are you holding in the pictures on the website?

It’s a Ferrington Custom guitar with a mixture of pickups. It works!

What strings do you use and what gauge, please.? (i.e Light , medium or heavy.)

I use Elixir Acoustic and Electric strings, light gauges on both.

I've always thought that the line "Once I was bending the tops of the trees, Kind words in my ear, kind faces to see" in your song "Withered and Died" was a reference to Robert Frost's poem "Birches", in which he remembers his youth hours spent swinging and bending down birch trees. Did you have that in mind?

I wasn’t thinking of the Robert Frost poem, no, really just my own memories.

What’s next for Richard Thompson?

I don’t know what’s next, but I hope it’s lunch.