Teddy Thompson was 19 years old the last time he toured with his father, renowned British folk singer-songwriter Richard Thompson.
At the time, the younger Thompson had just finished school, and was expressing an interest in performing. His father took him under his wing, and Teddy became a touring guitarist in the backing band, appearing on three albums in that capacity between 1996 and 1999.
“When I first moved to the States and I was living in California, he took me out on the road with him — I think I was 19, so it would be 18 years ago,” Teddy said recently from his home in New York City. “It was very much kind of an apprenticeship. It was a great thing to do, and it was nice to spend time with him; it was also kind of a nice fatherly thing to do, to help you sort of get your chops up a bit. I got to play every night. It was good, a good education.”
Since then, Teddy Thompson has gone on to establish himself as a powerful folk and rock musician. He’s released five solo studio albums, most recently 2011’s “Bella;” he played with Roseanne Cash’s backing band in the early 2000s; and he’s co-written songs with his mother, Linda Thompson, a leader in the British folk movement of the ’70s and ’80s alongside Richard.
Egg show is 2nd of 7
When he reunites with his father starting this Friday for seven shows, including a stop at The Egg on Saturday, the dynamic will be different. For one thing, Teddy Thompson will be performing his own songs in an opening set, not playing with his father’s band — in fact, neither musician will have a band with them. The two will each perform a solo set, and will unite for some songs as well.
Richard Thompson and Teddy Thompson
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: The Egg, Empire State Plaza, Albany
How Much: $39.50
More Info: 473.1845, www.theegg.org
“I wouldn’t say it’s full circle — we’re not both about to drop dead or anything — but it’s nice to come back and play with him as a sort of grown up and a fully-fledged artist, if you will. It’s a little more even footing,” Teddy said. “Now, I’m not comparing myself to him as a musician — I still haven’t caught up; I’m nowhere near him. It’s nice musically just to play with him, just because he’s so great, and it’s also nice from a father-son perspective too. I’m grown up now and we don’t see each other very much; we live in different cities, so it’s nice to just spend time with him too.”
Despite Teddy’s strong musical lineage, he didn’t really grow up surrounded by it — Richard and Linda divorced when Teddy was young, and Linda subsequently retired from the music business for a time. Teddy still found himself drawn to music, sensing the connection with his parents.
“Both of my parents are musicians — I knew that’s what they did, I felt that, sensed it,” Teddy said. “But on a practical, day-to-day basis, my mum wasn’t really working as a musician and she didn’t play tons of music in the house. I wasn’t living with my dad — they were long-divorced. I wasn’t brought up in an exceedingly musical environment, but I knew that it was the family business; I knew it was in the blood, and I had an interest.”
Support — eventually
And he received support and encouragement from his musician parents — eventually.
“I think when I got to be about 17 or 18 and I was clearly interested and showing promise of some kind, and when I was still at school, they were both a little bit weary — my dad more than my mom,” Teddy said. “It’s not an easy business, and if you’re looking at your child you’re thinking, oh, that’s a rough road — regardless of what it is, it’s going to give you pause. But they were very encouraging after I left school.”
As Teddy’s own folk career began taking off in the early 2000s, Linda decided to re-enter the music business as well. Her 2002 comeback album “Fashionably Late,” her first in 17 years, was co-produced by Teddy, who also co-wrote many of the album’s songs with his mother. Linda has continued to record, and her next album, “Won’t Be Long Now,” will feature more co-writes with Teddy.
“We didn’t really write songs together in the same room; that would be quite difficult I think,” Teddy said. “It came about because she doesn’t really play an instrument. She had a lot of words and needed some tunes, so for the most part that’s what it was — her giving me lyrics and me trying to write a tune.”
Songwriting: slow work
Teddy’s own songwriting process is slow. The string-heavy “Bella,” which features Teddy’s touring band and some guitar work from his father, Richard, came three years after his fourth album, “A Piece of What You Need.” He’s working on new material for a new album, although he’s not in any hurry.
“When I can find the time between watching TV and shopping, yeah,” Teddy said with a laugh. “I’m obviously not in any particular hurry. I’m not very good at being in a hurry, so I try not to worry too much about it. I am writing, or I’m trying to write, but I’m not very good at going quickly. It’ll happen when it happens, or when I run out of money I guess — that’s when I’ll start working.”
Reach Gazette reporter Brian McElhiney at 395-3111 or firstname.lastname@example.org.