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.

How Music Works

Jun 22, 2017

Musicians make great teachers and Music Inside Out is shining a light on some of our favorite faculty:

MIO 101: Lyrics

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.

MIO - Rickie Lee Jones

 

Rickie Lee Jones says she moved to New Orleans, in part, because she wanted to be around people. In Los Angeles, she was mostly around cars.

So far, so good. People from New Orleans — either real or imagined — are all over her latest effort, “The Other Side of Desire.” And one of Jones’ neighbors here even helped inspire a song on the album.

Kevin Dooley/Flickr

 

This week, Music Inside Out features Louisiana musicians telling stories of their experiences around the world.

Alex McMurray, Shannon Powell, the Pfister Sisters and Luke Winslow King couldn’t sound more different on stage. But they’re all road-tested, having talked, played, sung or cooked their way out of tight spots in Nashville, Germany, Greece and Japan.

 

Jon Cleary was born and raised in Britain, but didn’t find the right groove until he reached New Orleans. His experience adds a whole new layer to the concept of “Home and Away.”

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.

 

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.

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