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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

He was voted the 19th best guitarist in rock by Rolling Stone. His album with then wife Linda, Shoot Out the Lights, was voted the 9th best album of the 80s by Rolling Stone. His music has inspired a tribute album, Beat the Retreat, with covers by X, REM, Bonnie Raitt, Dinosaur Jr, Bob Mould, among others. He was a founding member of Fairport Convention. He has released a string of solo albums, some studio, some live, six of which are listed to the left, that have all received overwhelmingly strong reviews.

This is not a "why isn't he more famous" column. He's made a living in music for almost 40 years now, and if he is not a household name, Richard Thompson is known to the musicians he would be flattered to be known by, and his legends of fans, who fill all the halls in all the countries he incessantly tours, solo or with his band, await each new project eagerly and with open wallets.

Just released this past Tuesday, the six CD box set The Life and Times of Richard Thompson explores RT's music from all aspects of his career, from Fairport through his collaboration with ex-wife Linda Thompson through today. As it should, the box set consists almost exclusively of live cuts; Thompson is a fine studio musician, but he excels in live performances, especially in respect to his guitar work. I've been lucky enough to see RT over - over I don't now how many times; I remember being at one of the legendary early 80s RT and LT Shoot Out the Light shows, at the long gone Bayou on K St in Georgetown under the Whitehurst Freeway, watching them fight onstage, stopping between swipes verbal and openhand, to make ethereal music about a disintegrating marriage. I saw him last fall in Easton Maryland at the Avalon. I've seen almost every show within 100 miles of DC in between those two. I'll be seeing him again, about the same time it's the next time he's in the area.