EMAIL THE BEEKEEPER
Thank you for Asking! RT Q&A Part I
12/1/2004 (updated 12/1/2004)

G. Mills: Hey man, I was just wondering, could you tell me what pedal you were using to get that great lead tone on the first Fairport album please?

We didn’t have pedals in those days, young person, or leastways I didn’t. It’s mostly a Gibson ES175 through either a Marshall 4 x 12 or a Fender Showman, suitably driven.

R. Pitney: I'm looking at buying a 023 Lowden.I understand you’ve been playing his guitars for a while. I understand that Lowden has stopped making guitars. Which model do you play and what strings do you use? Caught your show in Lawrence Ks. Always captivated with your sound. Do you use modal tunings?

I get confused with the numberings, but I think I play L27FCs, medium body, single cutaway. George Lowden, the founder of the company, has just taken back the rights to Lowden Guitars, after concerns about quality, and his new production line is up and running; I was at the factory in Northern Ireland this summer, and witnessed the first guitars of the new era, and I must say – they are absolutely superb! They will be in short supply for the next couple of years, I suspect, so put your name down early. I use Elixir Strings, Light Gauge. I use a bunch of modal tunings, which we’ve gone into before a few times on this page.

S. Leo: You recently performed in Madison, Wisconsin, and during the introduction of one of your songs you described Trafalgar Square in London to an audience of Midwesterners. Since I am a big fan of Patrick O'Brien's Aubrey/Maturin books, I guess I was one of the few people in the audience who knew who Lord Nelson was ("Never mind the maneuvers. Just go straight at 'em!") I can't help but notice your use of some of the language (i.e. "lubberly", "luffed", etc.) that one finds in the books. Are you a fan as well?

I am a fan of Patrick O’Brien, and I suppose I’ll have to read them all again. Did I really say ‘luffed’? Can’t imagine the context…

R. Barenblat: I have a question for you. You sang a carol which you said might be the musical ancestor of "God Save Our Queen." I loved it, and would love to track down a recording of it somewhere; can you tell me the song name and author (if known)?

The song is ‘Remember O Thou Man’ from about 1700. Author unknown. There is a version in Chappell’s ‘Popular Music Of Olden Time, Vol. One, pub. Dover Books. I don’t know of any recorded versions.

M. Kornblum: I am impressed by how accessible you are to your audience. What has influenced you in your decision to be so "vulnerable"( and patient)?

I think I wanted some rapport with the audience because I couldn’t stand the longeurs between songs. I should have stuck to being a silent tortured genius, I suppose…it is a truly vulnerable position, and far better to just acknowledge it, and move on. As for patient, I don’t think I am, he snapped irritably…

Davmar: I noticed that American blues and r & b haven't been addressed in the 1,000 years shows. I would think there could be some interesting material to consider.i would like to hear RT pull off a Professor Longhair song or 'mother in law' by Ernie K. Doe or '300lbs of joy' by Howlin' Wolf. Any plans for future tours spotlighting different styles like that?

We have been trying to do musical styles which we stand some chance of competing in, or can parody somehow. It’s hard to do Howlin’ Wolf without sounding white, suburban and effete. Prof. Longhair, maybe – I do have a guitar arrangement or two of the Prof’s piano style.

J. Lasky: Will you ever release a live recording from your "Hand of Kindness" tour with your Big Band? More specifically, will you ever release a recording of the song "Hand of Kindness" from that tour?

I don’t know what’s in the archives for that era, but we are trying to get a good representative spread of live work released, and if there is enough decent quality from that tour, we’d be happy to put it out. Good idea!

G. Malfitano: Dear Beekeeper, I hope that Mr. Thompson will read and reply to this letter from a longtime fan. It's a request, really. To consider covering one of the late Warren Zevon's best crafted works: "Roland the (Headless) Thompson Gunner." This song begs for a Richard Thompson rendering, with perhaps a more topical last line. (Note, the Thompson/Thompson thing is purely coincidence.) It would be wonderful to hear this at Mr. Thompson's '05 performance here in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Warren was one of the greats, and I’ve been looking for some way to pay tribute to him. This is a fine suggestion.

zmd: Richard, Do you perform King of Bohemia often? I only heard you perform it live just before the release of Mirror Blue. I really enjoy the Mirror Blue version, however, it's absolutely brilliant live.

It gets rotated in and out of the repertoire – this year I might have played it at 30% of solo shows. I’m glad it’s a song that the audience can connect with. It was recorded on Mirror Blue live with one mic. Thank you for your kind feedback.

G. Wing: Hiiii Richard hope ya ok. Me been searching for years to find out which le mystere des voix bulgares track that featured in your "my top ten" radio 1 circa 83 ish

I am not completely sure which track I played, but I think it was ‘Theodora Is Dozing’ from the ‘Music Of Bulgaria’ album which came out on Nonesuch in the 60s. I don’t know if this is still in print, but it featured the Bulgarian State Choir, with great soloists like Yanka Rupkina.

J. Golbach: Dear Richard, Why in the world have you and Pierre Bensusan not collaborated? Will seeing the two of you play together have to wait until we've all passed through the Pearly Gates?

I love Pierre’s playing, but we only seem to meet every 20 years…I think we also cover a lot of the same musical space, so the results in real life might not be as musical as those in the imagination.

A. Fryer: mary&joseph (henry the human fly) what the hell was that about, anyway?

It can be about whatever you like, Allan. I was thinking about the political unrest in Ireland at the time.

continued