Thursday, June 12, 2008

Teddy Thompson/The Grey Race; June 12, 2008; The Rathskellar

It isn’t easy being the offspring of a famous musician, let alone having both of your parents in the business. With parents like Richard and Linda Thompson, famous for everything from being half of Fairport Convention to “retiring” for something like twenty years (Linda) to being one of the best guitar players of his generation (Richard) to having a voice that makes me swoon every time I hear it (Richard again), it isn’t easy to make your own name. Teddy has taken his time building his career, in addition to touring with his parents as opener and band member, he’s also hit the road with Rufus Wainwright. During those years, he released just one full length, an EP and a covers record. He arrived in Madison one week before the release of his next CD without any copies of A Piece of What You Want to sell.

Even though none of the new tunes were familiar, they seemed more so on first listen than the songs from his previous disc of originals Separate Ways. While that disc had its winners, “I Wish It Were Over” was one of the highlights of tonight’s set, it isn’t as consistent overall as the new material. Of course, that could have nothing to do with the songs and everything to do with his mood. The last time I saw him he seemed vaguely annoyed with a smallish crowd at a subdued Orpheum Stage Door Theater. Even though the show was forced inside tonight by the thunderstorms and tornado warnings, resulting in an audience much smaller than the average Terrace crowd, he didn’t seem the least bit disappointed. In fact, though he didn’t talk much he seemed genuinely pleased to be there. He didn’t inherit his father’s shiver-inducing baritone, but it is probably better that he got his own voice, one equally as gorgeous and pure but not the least bit similar. And in fact, just as likely to give me shivers.

His backing band tonight was also his opening band. The Grey Race from Brooklyn played pretty, soothing pop, which served mostly to encourage conversation in the audience. It was lovely, but came off more as background music than as something we should pay attention to. I can’t even imagine what would have happened to them on the Terrace, likely they would have been swallowed whole by the notoriously inattentive audiences there. That all changed when Teddy joined them for his set, somehow convincing the audience to pay attention without ever raising his voice.

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