A's to Q's, Part II
10/18/2006 (updated 10/18/2006)

Dear Beekeeper
My thanks to Richard for answering my questions on how he plans his set and he was fantastic in Edinburgh. Can you ask Richard: When is he next playing in the UK with his electric four piece; When is he next playing in the UK; and If he has plans to appear at Cropredy in 2007. Thank you, Alicia Russell

I am planning to appear at Cropredy 2007 with band, as part of a UK tour – I’m hoping various dates around the UK in July/August. 

The Champions league is only a few weeks away; supposing Celtic need a win or a draw to make the next stage, there is only 5 mins left of the game, and you are due on stage, and it’s 0-0 - do you continue watching the game or are you the consummate professional and start the gig as planned? Just wondered what happens in these scenarios! Kevin Doonan

It was a close call this summer with the World Cup. I was onstage in Canada at the Winnepeg Folk Festival during the first half of the final. I managed to watch the second half, with fifteen other fanatics, on a nine inch black and white set crammed in the back of an ice cream concession. I have witnessed a whole four-piece backing band watching the World Cup on a set smuggled onstage, unknown to the singer standing up front (names withheld). I try to plan ahead, but if it came to a real conflict, I’d have to miss the game. 

I notice that you once co-wrote a book on mandolin theory and techniques, which is sadly out of print. I really like your mandolin style and was wondering if you have any hints on books, who to listen to, or whatever. 

I’m sorry it’s out of print, but it was a tutor for electric mandolin, which is a different beast. I don’t know what to suggest for books – other readers may have tips. There are great players out there – if you play bluegrass, the guy in Nickel Creek is phenomenal. For a more English style, I love Martin Carthy or Dave Swarbrick.

 A couple of years ago I heard an RT song on Radio Scotland which told the story (in comical vein) of someone who couldn't make up their mind if they were Arthur or Martha.  I've tried many record shops and the song-o-matic to find a copy of this but with no luck.  Could you possibly help? thanks Graeme 

I think you mean ‘Woman Or A Man’, which was never on a ‘proper’ album, but appears on ‘Small Town Romance’ and the new box set. 

I have heard that some guitarists make their guitars 'sing' or 'speak'. I donot mean play a nice melody, or produce a lovely piece of music, but actually replicate words. Does RT do this? If so, which songs should I be looking out for? This could be a whole new way of listening to Richard Thompson, not that I need an excuse you understand! I adore the output!! Regards, James Ferguson 

Steel player Pete Drake used to have an attachment on his mouth, so that whatever vowel his mouth was shaping, that tone would be transferred to the instrument. The results were pretty horrible, and thank God he didn’t do it very often. Someone like Bubber Miley with Duke Ellington got pretty close to a vocal impersonation. But on the whole it’s a bad idea, don’t you think? 

Sorry if this is answered somewhere on your web site, but what's the deal with "beeswing" and "beesweb" and "beekeeper" and all that? Can you explain the symbolism or significance? Is the answer in your song "Beeswing"?  Thanks, Chris 

This is arcane knowledge reserved for special initiates only. Bare your left breast, roll up your right trouser leg, and kneel. Ready? There, that didn’t hurt too much, did it? Put some ice on it later…now I can reveal the inner truth… 

Beeswing is a tiny village in Dumfriesshire, close to where we spent our summer holidays every year when I was a kid. I always wondered about the origins of the name. As I got musical, I discovered that there is a Beeswing Hornpipe, a tricky one for fiddlers, often used as a test piece in competitions, but probably unrelated to the name of the town. With the name in my brain, I wrote a song called Beeswing, which wasn’t so great. A few years after that, I wrote a different song called Beeswing, which I still perform. When we were looking for groovy website names, Beesweb was suggested, and from there, Beekeeper, UK Hive, etc., logically follow. Beneath the tiny village of Beeswing we have our underground bunker and world headquarters, nuke-ready and waiting for the post-apocalyptic folk-rock sound. Now you know.