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PortWatch

June 12, 2014

A musical taste of Britain

Renowned folk-rock artist back in Port for solo acoustic show

(Continued)

“I think the title of the record is actually misleading,” Thompson said. “There are a bunch of acoustic or semi-acoustic things on it. I grew up playing acoustic music, hanging out in that sort of club, as well as playing electric stuff and listening to The Who. There’s the whole range on this record.”

Thompson’s Newburyport performance will focus on his acoustic talents as a solo act.

While American folk-rock bands were getting their inspiration from acts like Bob Dylan in the folk music revival of the 1960s, Thompson said his movement carried an element of international response. The rise of folk-rock in the United Kingdom was both a salute and a counter to the overwhelming saturation of talent in stateside genres.

A founding member of Fairport Convention, the band that brought British folk-rock to the forefront in the late 1960s, Thompson wanted to play something more original than the covers that he and his then-bandmates were doing.

“It started with a dissatisfaction with being imitators,” he said. “We loved the blues, we loved R&B, we loved Otis Redding, but for music to play ourselves, we felt slightly cheated: We would never play the blues as well as Muddy Waters, we would never play soul music as well as James Brown.

“‘What’s something that we could excel at ourselves, and not feel second-rate?’ We started to perform music that was more from the British Isles,” he said. “And as writers, to write music that was more influenced by the British Isles. That’s how the whole thing started.”

The band was composed of teenagers at the time. Thompson continued with Fairport Convention through its first major trauma — a van accident that killed the drummer and Thompson’s girlfriend — and went on to write some of its first original material for “Liege & Lief,” considered among the band’s highlights.

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