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.

Carlos Miguel Prieto.
Peter Schaaf / Music Inside Out

  Carlos Miguel Prieto says he can’t dance and he’s no good at golf. Those may be the only pursuits that elude him. As a youngster, growing up in Mexico City, he wanted to play violin. So, he did. As a teenager, he wanted to become an engineer. So, he did. As a young man, he wanted to run a business. So, he did. And, in the 1990s, Prieto decided to give up industry and become a symphony conductor. So far, so good.

“I’ve been doing it for about 20 years now and I thought maybe at some point I’m not going to love it as much as I do now,” he told Gwen recently. “I still do.”

Dr. Michael White.
Derek Bridges / Music Inside Out

What do you hear when he plays his clarinet?

 

Can you hear the bayou? The river? The French Quarter? People sitting on their stoops waiting for someone to deliver the news? Penny parties?

That’s not a clarinet in the doctor’s hands; it’s a time machine.  

Fats Domino & Dave Bartholomew.
The Historic New Orleans Collection

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.  

Rickie Lee Jones.
MusicInsideOut.org

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.

George Porter, Jr.
MusicInsideOut.org

When George Porter, Jr. was a child, he wanted to become a Catholic priest. But an uncomfortably silent church retreat and an encounter with neighborhood blues musicians helped Porter find his musical calling.

He turned to funk and never looked back.

As the bass player for The Meters, Porter helped create a body of music in the 1960s and 70s that still resonates as some of the funkiest grooves ever recorded.

So what’s the secret to funk?

Gregg Goldman / Music Inside Out

Food may be the most popular subject on the planet. In fact, scientists have long said that men and women think about food more often than almost anything else: more often than global warming or world peace, more than super heroes, more often, even, than sex.

We can’t beat those odds, so this week on Music Inside Out we make a grocery list and dedicate the show to Louisiana songs about food.

Musician and author Ben Sandmel joins us for part of the hour. And we’re serving up songs that will hit the spot and keep you happy, until it’s time to think about food again.

John Boutte.
robbiesaurus / Flickr via MusicInsideOut.org

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.

Deacon John.
Music Inside Out

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.

This week, the 77-year-old New Orleans songwriter, producer and arranger Allen Toussaint died after a concert in Madrid. For most of his career, Toussaint preferred working behind the scenes, but our friend Gwen Thompkins met him at a time when he'd thrown himself into performing extensively around the world. Before they parted ways for what would be the last time, Toussaint gave Thompkins a gift: a demo recording of a song he never got to release, but said he wanted the world to hear.

Allen Toussaint.
MusicInsideOut.org

This week, we learned that Allen Toussaint died after performing at a concert Monday in Madrid. He was 77 years old. Toussaint had toured extensively since Hurricane Katrina, but he was, in many ways, a reluctant performer. He preferred his life behind the scenes in the studio — writing, producing, and arranging songs. A disciple of Professor Longhair, Toussaint seemed to understand what New Orleans music could do for the world.

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