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richard thompson 

Guitar virtuoso Richard Thompson (he came in at No. 19 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest guitar players of all time — behind Kurt Cobain but ahead of Buddy Guy) has always been more of a critical hero than a popular success. His large following is the cult sort that's made up of musicians, record collectors and writers. With more than 40 albums — averaging one a year since his late-'60s debut with British folk-rock outfit Fairport Convention — Thompson has provided a lot for them to sink their teeth into.

Fairport Convention's psychedelic folk was rooted strongly in ancient British musical traditions. The decade he spent in musical partnership with his wife Linda produced nearly a dozen folk-rock albums anchored by masterful songwriting and the combination of his hushed, intense baritone voice and her haunting vocals.

Thompson's latest musical efforts include the score for Werner Herzog's creepy and beautiful 2005 film Grizzly Man and the 2007 album Sweet Warrior, which offers a sampling of his talents, from electric rocking to acoustic picking. One of his most interesting projects to date, 1000 Years of Popular Music, was born of a Playboy magazine request to name his top 10 songs of the past millennium. Thompson chose songs from the full span of the 1,000 years, including madrigals, sea shanties, broadside ballads and the 13th century Middle "Sumer is Icumen in," thought to be the first composition recorded in musical notation on paper. Playboy declined to print his list, but Thompson extended the original 10 songs into a full set that became a tour (with Welsh-New Orleanian transplant Judith Owen on vocals), a live CD and a concert DVD.

richard thompson 2:25 p.m. friday, may 2 | gentilly stage

click to enlarge Cult favorite Richard Thompson has had a prolific career since playing with Fairport Convention
  • Cult favorite Richard Thompson has had a prolific career since playing with Fairport Convention
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