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Interview:
Richard Thompson shooting out the lights on new album, AmericanaramA tour
 

By GARY GRAFF
@graffonmusic, Facebook.com/Gary Graff on Music

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Richard Thompson may get the shortest set as the first man on at the AmericanaramA [cq] Festival of Music package, but that's hardly all we'll see of him.

In fact, the British-born guitarist says, the best part of the tour is the chance ot get up with the other acts. "There's been a lot of sitting in," says Thompson, 64, a veteran of Fairport Convention who's been releasing solo albums since 1972. "I've played with Wilco on a few shows. (My) Morning Jacket has been playing with Wilco. I think John Prine sat in with Morning Jacket one show.

"It's that kind of environment where that can happen. I think it's a great combination of acts, and it seems to be doing very well."

The same can be said for Thompson at the moment. His latest album, "Electric," is the highest charting set of his career in both the U.S. and the U.K., while the song "Good Things Happen to Bad People" has been nominated for Song of the Year at the Americana Music Awards, where Thompson is also up for Artist of the Year. "We'll see if they allow me to win as a foreigner," cracks Thompson, who resides in Los Angeles.

"Electric," meanwhile, is a showpiece for the trio he currently has out on the road, even though it's augmented by guests such as Alison Krauss, Siobhan Maher Kennedy, Stuart Duncan and producer Buddy Miller.

"I enjoy the sound of the trio and the challenge of playing with a trio," explains Thompson, who's currently working on two more albums -- one electric, the other acoustic -- as well as a stage musical he describes as "rather dark." "It makes you think differently because there's less harmonic information. You don't have another guitar player or a keyboardist filling in the harmonic details. So you tend to write differently, which was inspirational for me.

"And it's great fun on stage. It's a challenge because there's nowhere to hide. You're sort of 'on' all the time; you can't wait for someone else to take a solo 'cause there isn't anybody else. Everybody has to be full conscious at all points -- but that's fun, I think."

Richard Thompson performs with Bob Dylan, Wilco and My Morning Jacket as part of the AmericanaramA Festival of Music at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, July 14, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $40-$80 pavilion, $30 lawn. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.placenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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