Gwen Thompkins

Host of Music Inside Out

Gwen Thompkins is a New Orleans native, NPR veteran and host of WWNO's Music Inside Out, where she brings to bear the knowledge and experience she amassed as senior editor of Weekend Edition, an East Africa correspondent, the holder of Nieman and Watson Fellowships, and as a longtime student of music from around the world.

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Music Inside Out

At first, there wasn’t a name for the kind of music that Fats Domino played.

He called it rhythm and blues. But Domino’s songs stretched beyond that category.

In the late 1940s, Domino was working at a mattress factory in New Orleans and playing piano at night. He’d just gotten married … and both his waistline and fan base were expanding. That’s when the bandleader Billy Diamond first called him “Fats” — and predicted he’d have an outsized career.

Music Inside Out

Ann Savoy is a lot of things: a musician, scholar, ethnomusicologist, mother, and world traveler. One thing she’s not is boring.

Chris Thile: “Great Music is More Alike Than Un-Alike”
Music Inside Out

For the first ever live recording of Music Inside Out, Gwen caught up with the prodigious and prolific Chris Thile at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center. He’s barely 36 years-old, but already boasts a lifetime’s worth of achievements. He started learning mandolin as a kindergartener. Three years later, he co-founded the platinum-selling Nickel Creek with his friends Sara and Sean Watkins. The band would become a groundbreaking force in acoustic music.

Music Inside Out

 

Taj Mahal has guts. What else would explain the song title, “You Ain’t No Street Walker Mama, Honey But I Do Like the Way You Strut Your Stuff?”

In the history of the blues, there’s never been anyone as bold, funny, carnal and canny.

Music Inside Out

 

Within Buddhist traditions, “samsara” refers to the karmic cycle of rebirth that a being must travel through on their journey towards enlightenment. While in some traditions this can take many lifetimes to complete, others maintain that, for certain exceptional people, the transformative process can happen within a single lifetime.

Art Montes

 

German artist David Helbich first coined the term “Belgian solutions” when he moved to Brussels in the early-2000s. It refers to the ad-lib alterations to the architecture and infrastructure of the EU capital, which Helbich has made a central theme in his photography.

Music Inside Out

The name that our musical guests have most consistently mentioned is Professor Longhair. It began, well, at the beginning. Longhair, whose friends call him Fess, figured into the very first answer from the very first guest on the very first Music Inside Out.

Since then, others have conjured his name when describing the best of New Orleans music. As it turns out, Longhair — who died in 1980 — remains a guiding spirit to musicians and music lovers everywhere. So as a matter of duty and privilege, we’re spreading the joy.

Music Inside Out

Ann Savoy is a lot of things: a musician, scholar, ethnomusicologist, mother, and world traveler. One thing she’s not is boring.

Music Inside Out

Danny Barker (1909-1994) was born into that generation of musicians whose lives reflected the arc of jazz from men blowing horns atop mule-drawn wagons to the world stage. From New Orleans to New York and back again, he managed to be both a witness and participant in the evolution of the music.

Music Inside Out

Margie Perez grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC on a diet of classic rock and Cuban rhythms. As the child of immigrants from Havana, she knew Johnny Pacheco and Celia Cruz recordings just as intimately as she did every Beatles album. And what goes in, eventually comes out.

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