Music Inside Out With Gwen Thompkins

Thursdays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at Noon, & Sunday at 1 a.m.

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.

Musicians make great teachers and Music Inside Out is shining a light on some of our favorite faculty:

MIO 101: Lyrics

Jon Cleary
Jesse Hiatt / Music Inside Out

Like most first generation New Orleanians, Jon Cleary, a.k.a. that funky gentleman from the Ninth Ward, has a thoroughly idiosyncratic story of how he came to live in the city and absorb its musical culture. He grew up in England and arrived in New Orleans just in time to hear and meet some of the city’s best known piano players — James Booker, Fats Domino, Professor Longhair, Dr. John, Allen Toussaint, and others. Back then, Cleary was almost exclusively a guitarist. But he knew enough about the piano to know that he could learn to play it well. And he did.

Bruce Boyd Raeburn is known to most people as the curator of the William Ransom Hogan Jazz Archive at Tulane University, a position he held from 1989 until his retirement on January 1, 2018.

As a piano player and band leader, David Torkanowsky is equally comfortable pushing the edges of jazz, funk, blues and rhythm and blues. Aside from his solo projects, Torkanowsky has collaborated with so many musical legends — Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Danny Barker, Earl Turbington, Tony DaGradi, George Porter Jr., Zigaboo Modeliste, Dianne Reeves and Errol Garner, among them — that he now enjoys his own legendary patina.  

Like most girls her age, Susan Cowsill watched The Partridge Family every week on television. But unlike most girls her age, she was related to the Partridges, albeit in a Hollywood kind of way. The show was modeled after Cowsill and other members of her singing family.

 

In the 1960s and early ’70s, The Cowsills were regulars on television, appearing with Ed Sullivan, Johnny Cash and on their own programs. They also had a string of top ten hits, including “The Rain, the Park and Other Things,” and “Hair.”

“Everything in life is governed by rhythm,” says Herlin Riley, “Everything. (And) when you play the drums, the rhythms are quicker.”

Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong / Louis Armstrong

Perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring facts about Ricky Riccardi, who directs research collections at the Louis Armstrong House Museum Collection in Queens, is that he never argued with his parents. 

Margie Perez grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC on a diet of classic rock and Cuban rhythms. As the child of immigrants from Havana, she knew Johnny Pacheco and Celia Cruz recordings just as intimately as she did every Beatles album. And what goes in, eventually comes out. 

Scott Billington, Irma Thomas, and Dr. John
Scott Billington, Irma Thomas, and Dr. John

There’s a good chance that the name “Scott Billington” is on the back of your favorite album. Make that “albums.” As a long-time music producer for Rounder Records, Billington has tended the most fertile ground of American music. Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, Charlie Rich, Solomon Burke, Irma Thomas, Johnny Adams, James Booker, Dr. John, Buckwheat Zydeco, Duane Allman, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Soul Rebels make up only a partial list of the artists with whom Billington has worked.

Despite the throngs of tourists and ever-growing parade of festivals, New Orleans’ nightlife can be surprisingly intimate. The corner bar is often the anchor of a neighborhood’s social life, where friends, strangers, and familiar faces can share drinks, stories, dreams, and failures.

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