A's to RT Discussion List Q's Part III
4/6/2006 (updated 4/6/2006)

RT Discussion List Q&A
Courtesy of Flip @

For 35 years I have been waiting for the final scene of The Eqypt Room. What happened when the princess met the man with the cane after the show? Or did she fail to heed the warning of the chorus and turn up too late to meet him?

RT: I'm sure I don't know.

Have you ever taken voice lessons? Do you have a particular vocal warm-up to prepare for a concert? What about all those live recordings when you have a cold or clear your throat? Do you need someone to help you maintain your voice and avoid vocal abuse? (I can do summers! I'll bet the smoking bans in many of the venues has helped you stay healthier and reduced those nasty coughing jags)

RT: Thanks for the coaching offer! I have not had lessons, but have tried to glean knowledge from other singers from various disciplines. If I haven't sung live for more than three or four days, it takes me about three days to get 'sung in' in preparation. I sing the repertoire, practise scales and swoops. Having a cold or other respiratory problem is a setback but not necessarily a disaster - the more one can sing from the stomach, the better. My voice is pretty tough, and can withstand a lot of abuse, but I'll take the occasional 'silent' day on tour - avoiding talking as much as possible - to rest up. The smoking ban has been a huge benefit for singers, comedians, musicians - all that second-hand smoke in the environment has taken its toll of non-smoking performers over the years.

What process do you go when you introduce Danny Thompson to new songs for a duo tour? Do you send tapes in advance and then rehearse?

RT: If it's just the duo, Danny will go over what he already knows before rehearsal, and then we'll sit down and routine new stuff. We both find an hour's rehearsal is best absorbed when followed by 3 hours of snooker. If it's the full band, tapes will be distributed of the whole set list, so that everyone is pretty much up to speed, and rehearsal time can be limited to just a few days, followed by massage, aromatherapy, snooker, etc., and other vital pre-tour practices.

With the release of 1000 Years DVD, and it's origins at the Getty, would the idea of a museum / art gallery centered tour be considered?

(Many public galleries have excellent but underused theaters & an educated and interested core audience that may be attracted by the idea behind the show more than knowing your background - in Winnipeg I can remember seeing some very good concerts in the WAG theatre - Stan Rogers, Robert Fripp and very few others).

RT: This is an attractive idea, putting music into such a pleasant environment, and it is the kind of venue that we do play occasionally - maybe a couple of times a year. Unless there was a ready-made circuit of these venues, however, I could foresee problems doing a whole tour, for instance with promotion - would the promoter be experienced enough to advertise properly, hire the right PA system, would the audience come to a gallery instead of their usual venue, etc.

The electric guitar on "My Soul, My Soul" has an interesting sound: very clear, doesn't sound like the amp is turned anywhere near all the way up and yet that sound has real meatiness to it, especially on the low notes. Is that the new amp at work?

RT: I've talked about this elsewhere - it is my Divided By 13 amp, on a very low setting. I think the tone works well.

You've played bass from time to time on your studio records. How do you rate yourself as a bass player? RT: Not bad for a guitar player. Not as good as a real bass player. It's fun to do, from time to time, and I would probably do a better job on someone else's project rather than my own. I always liked Steve Stills' bass playing.

I was first attracted to your music by your electric guitar playing (in the early '90s) and most of the tours then were band tours. Now that the band tours have gotten few and far between, do you feel you couldn't play electric guitar for solo shows? If you feel you must have a band to play electric, and economics is the problem, I loved the trio format for Austin City Limits. An even more radical idea would be a guitar-drums duo. (I saw the White Stripes for the first time last year, and they get quite a full band sound with that format. I think that if Jack White could do it, you certainly could also).

RT: I saw Tony Joe White way back when, just him and a drummer, and that was great. The trio was fun, but was born of necessity (Zorn had a gig). If it was a hard economic ceiling, and it had to be a three-piece, for instance, as the only way to get a band to Australia, then I'd go for it. Otherwise, I'd rather have the fuller picture, that touch more colouration.

Any instrumental projects in the pipeline? (Now that you have your own home studio, 'Strict Tempo 2'?; do you even consider including an instrumental on 'regular' cd's?)

RT: Ashamed to say, no. But you're right, I could.

Do you ever write songs with any other instrumental accompaniment in mind, other than the guitar? (For example; the late great Rory Gallagher used to do a hugely popular mandolin backed number, 'Going To My Home Town').

RT: I write things on keyboard, and mandolin, and whatever is to hand. I could be more adventurous, I suppose.

I've always gotten the impression that you aren't a natural 'nostalgist', so how does all the attention on your past work sit with you at the moment?

RT: I regurgitate the past every night - thus is the lot of the singer/songwriter. Those nostalgists for the 60s and such - I'll play along a bit, but it doesn't really interest me.

This also applies to people shouting out for old (FC & R<) songs at gigs, do you comply with enthusiasm or resignation? {Be careful on this one, depending on your reply, I might be calling for 'Dragging The River' at the next gig!! :-)}

RT: I'm actually quite happy to play songs from any era, and requests are welcome. Some songs I might not remember (and might not want to remember).