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.

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

Jason Saul / American Routes

Go ahead, we DARE you. Try listening to this week's re-broadcast of Music Inside Out with Deacon John Moore and NOT enjoying yourself.

As a guitarist, band leader and showman, Deacon John has been delighting crowds for more than half a century. This year, he's played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and the White House. He's just that irresistible.  

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

For many years here at NPR, Gwen Thompkins was an editor and then went to East Africa as a correspondent. She's always had a great ear, so perhaps it's not surprising that her brand-new music radio show called "Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins" listens to music in a revealing way. The show is from Gwen's hometown, New Orleans, and every week she talks to people in Louisiana who have devoted their lives to music - songwriters, musicians, producers, you name it.

Gwen Thompkins joins us now from WWNO in New Orleans. Congratulations.

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. He's written, produced and arranged chart-topping hits for scores of artists. And lately, Toussaint has been performing his catalog more often around the world.

This week, Allen Toussaint has plenty to say to Music Inside Out. Check out his major chords. And the minor ones too.

Music Playlist

Classified
James Booker

Vappielle, Inc.

Don Vappie can play just about anything on banjo — classical compositions, traditional jazz, even funk music. So wherever he goes musically, there's always an audience eager to hear what he has to say.

What most people may not know is that Vappie's talent extends to bass, guitar and any other instrument that needs playing. His ears are just that big. And his hands are just that good. Maybe that's why Vappie tells Music Inside Out that one of his favorite songs is the old Charles Wright hit, "Express Yourself." Because that's what Vappie does best.

Irma Thomas' Sound

Jul 26, 2012
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.

Sean Gardner / Getty Images

Louisiana music has such a hold on music lovers around the world that nearly every popular artist borrows from it. Or replicates it. Or, some might say, steals from it.

Illinois State University

When John Boutté invited OperaCréole to join him on stage at this year's New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Boutté knew he'd hit on the right mix for yet another history-making performance. OperaCréole, which appears on Boutté's latest CD, All About Everything, is a new and formidable force in the area's musical pantheon.

Givonna Joseph is the founder of the group and knows the power and the glory of good music. This week, Joseph joins the mix at Music Inside Out for yet another history-making show.

Music Playlist

Jason Saul / American Routes

Deacon John's mother wanted him to be a singer, but she hated rock 'n roll.

Oh well.

Mrs. Moore's little boy picked up a guitar, and it wasn't long before rock 'n roll came tumbling out. His bandmates named him Deacon John. But he also recorded at least one song under the name Johnny Moore. Deacon John's early recordings were high energy and danceable, just like his stage show. But "You Don't Know How (To Turn Me On)" and "Haven't I Been Good To You," signaled only a fragment of what the Deacon could do.

Jipes / flickr

Forget "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon." In New Orleans, it's more fun to play three degrees of David Torkanowsky.

There's so much water in, around and underneath New Orleans, that the dead spend eternity in tombs above ground.

Most of the tombs now have a similar design: On top, there's space for a wooden coffin or two, and at the bottom lies a potpourri of decanted family remains. Sooner or later, whoever is up high must vacate and settle lower, making room for the newly dead. That's how families stay together — in a desiccated jumble of grandpas, grandmas, siblings and cousins.

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