Music Inside Out With Gwen Thompkins

Thursdays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays at Noon

Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins presents the standard-bearers of Louisiana culture — musicians, songwriters, producers, engineers, music writers, and more — as they talk about the art of making music and the songs that influenced them.

Join us for an appreciation of the truly cross-cultural nature of our region’s music. The musical styles, instruments, and techniques of many peoples and lands come together in New Orleans, like nowhere else.

Connect with the show on Facebook and on Twitter.

Major support is provided by the Historic New Orleans Collection, with additional support from the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation.

Rick Olivier

 

More than six billion people live on the planet, and yet relatively few human voices are recognizable to the naked ear.

Irma Thomas has one of those voices.

For more than 50 years, Thomas has written, recorded and lent her voice to some of the most precious songs that Louisiana has ever produced. Now music lovers all over the world know the contralto that she calls, "Irma's sound." This week, Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins makes way for the Queen of New Orleans Soul.

Keep it down, y'all. Miss Irma is speaking.

 

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.

Vicky Sedgwick / Flickr

Susan Cowsill is one of the great harmonizers in the music business. Just ask Hootie and the Blowfish or Jackson Browne or her old bandmates in the Continental Drifters. The proof is on their recordings.

Harmonizing is a skill Cowsill learned as a tomboy back in the 1960s, when she was trying to win a place in her brothers' band. She got in. And The Cowsills went on to great success on the national charts and on television.

Acadiana Center for Film and Media / Flickr

Sonny Landreth and his slide guitar have flown a million miles to entertain audiences around the world — and he's got the card from his airline to prove it. So if you haven't yet seen Landreth in concert, whose fault is that?

This week, Music Inside Out travels to Lafayette, Louisiana to hear the great Landreth play.

Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Buffett, Johnny Winter and Eric Clapton are among his fans. And after hearing our interview, you'll be a fan too.

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This year, 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. 

Fantail Media / Flickr

Allen Toussaint — the  New Orleans producer, arranger and songwriter — has given entertainers around the world something to sing about for a half-century.

The list of collaborations is impressive: R&B, funk, jazz, rock and country. And all those hours in the studio, with so many types of artists, has given Toussaint some insight into the creative process.

Excellent show –  a great musical memory lane trip during lunch!

— Vicki Kihnemann

This is an unofficial test from the staff of Music Inside Out. Remember, this is ONLY a test:

Question: Who's funnier? 

A. Bruce Springsteen
B. Bob Dylan
C. Laurel and Hardy
D. Don Vappie
E. I hate tests.

Don't miss the Music Inside Out grand slam this week. We've played some of the best stories, songs and lessons from the season, featuring all the musicians we could squeeze into two hours. Review with us, if you will, our musical guests and hip shakin' moments.

Wendi Berman

John Boutté is hard to intimidate. He may be the only guy who has ever told Stevie Wonder that his singing was flat. Boutté's observation, during a chance encounter with Wonder, changed his life for good. What's more, it made our lives better.

For more than 20 years, Boutté has built a career writing and performing his own songs, as well as re-interpreting the signature work of others. This week, Boutté tells Music Inside Out how he got so good at finding lyrics to suit his voice, his tenderness, his outrage and his legendary sass.

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