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 with Gwen Thompkins
3:49 pm
Thu September 25, 2014

Allen Toussaint, Dean Of New Orleans Music

Allen Toussaint, Dean Of New Orleans Music.
Credit MusicInsideOut.org

Allen Toussaint says he’d rather let his piano do the talking. Lucky for us.

Toussaint’s fingers have done the talking on song after song for more than 50 years, defining the modern-day New Orleans sound.

In 2013, Toussaint was awarded the National Medal of Arts in recognition of his influence in preserving and advancing the music of New Orleans.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
7:00 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Shannon Powell's Joyful Drums

Shannon Powell, in a still from "Tradition is a Temple."
Credit Tutti Dynamics / Vimeo

The only thing more fun than talking to Shannon Powell is listening to him play. Powell is one of the most charismatic drummers to ever grace a stage. His secret? “I’m happy,” Powell tells Music Inside Out. “I was a happy child. I’m a happy spirit.”

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
1:26 am
Fri September 12, 2014

Meschiya Lake: An Honest-To-Goodness, Modern-Day Chanteuse

Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns.
Credit Babs Evangelista / MusicInsideOut.org

Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns have been playing together as a band since 2009. But their repertoire suggests a much longer, deeper history, dating back to the early part of the last century, when people were buying phonographs and drinking absinthe in its original form.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
5:00 pm
Thu August 28, 2014

Music Inside Out: Lights! Camera! Music!

Bob Mondello, Benh Zeitlin and Terence Blanchard.

The Art & Craft Of Marrying Film And Music

From the earliest days of motion pictures, music has played a crucial role in setting the mood for movies. Just take a look at the clip (above) of the final moments of Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 film “Modern Times.”

It’s hard to imagine that scene without the song “Smile.”

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
1:40 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Treme's David Simon: 'I'm A Storyteller'

David Simon.
Credit American Library Association

For most of his working life, David Simon has been telling an epic story of the American city — one corner at a time. First on the pages of The Baltimore Sun, then in the books Homicide: Life on the Killing Streets and The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
2:14 pm
Thu August 14, 2014

The Music Biz: Scott Aiges Pulls Back The Curtain

Credit Guillaume Laurent / Flickr

Consider the musicians.

After the crowd goes home, after they pack their gear and instruments, when their van rolls through the night and the smell of smoke still lingers on their clothes, the bottom line remains. The business of music never sleeps.

Artist royalties, mechanical royalties, revenue streams and recording contracts occupy the minds and sleepless nights of managers and artists the country over as they head to their next gig.

You could fill a college course with everything an artist needs to know. Trust us, they have.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
2:02 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Jim McCormick: A Poet Finds A Voice As A Songwriter

Jim McCormick.
Credit Scott Saltzman

The poetics of pickup trucks and cutoffs are not lost on Jim McCormick. Nor are the subtleties of Trans Ams and the beverage choices of the young and hay-baling set. And that’s how it should be for a poet-turned-Nashville songwriter.

A New Orleans native (and still occasional resident), McCormick penned two of 2012′s number one songs on the country charts. But all that success — and it is considerable — hasn’t gone to his head. He’s stayed humble. And funny. And grateful for the collaborations and to the mentors through the years.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
8:21 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

A. J. Croce: Telling Tales

A.J. Croce.
Credit Shelby Duncan

It’s easy to tease out the artists who’ve inspired A.J. Croce’s singing over the years — Ray Charles, Paul McCartney, Buddy Holly, even Ray Davies of The Kinks. He loves early rock n roll and R&B. So perhaps it’s ironic that A.J. rarely sounds like his father, singer-songwriter Jim Croce, who made his mark on music in the late 1960s and early 70s.

With nine albums to his credit and more than 20 years as a touring musician, A.J. Croce is his own man, performing his own music. And a devoted fan base has shown its appreciation for the genre-busting of the younger Croce.

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Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins
8:23 am
Fri July 11, 2014

Spend An Hour With John Boutté

John Boutté at the 2008 Voodoo Music Experience.
Jason Saul WWNO

 

When John Boutté commits to a song, he tailors it like a suit from Savile Row, breaking down the lyrics then building them back up again to say exactly what he means. If a Paul Simon song conjures the image of early Americans sailing to the New World on the Mayflower ship, Boutté will sing the same song and mention early Americans who sailed on the slave ship Amistad. If Dave Bartholemew writes that the grass looks greener somewhere else, Boutté will sing that the grass is greener right here at home.

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Music
1:53 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

The Kentucky Sisters And Old-Time Tunes As Doorways To History

The Kentucky Sisters.
Jason Rhein Elephant Quilty Productions

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 1:46 pm

Did you know that John F. Kennedy was a Republican? Neither did I. But that's what one of my college students guessed in a course on news writing. I asked another kid what period followed the Industrial Age and she said, "The Golden Age?" We moved on.

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