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|Waterville Sentinel - December 2002 - Lucky Clark top|
Thompsons offer 2 shows his weekend |
"We have a lot of fun performing we love doing it! And for these two shows, we'll be doing some holiday selections as well as some of our original music ?so they will be festive." So spoke Meredith Thompson (flute, percussion and harmony vocals) who, with her identical twin sister Chris (guitar and melody vocals), will be offering concerts at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Lithgow Public Library on Winthrop Street in Augusta and at 7 p.m. Sunday at the First Congregational Church on Eustis Parkway in Waterville. "'We've played at both venues before," Thompson said. "We played at the library a couple of summers ago outside ? but this coming show will definitely be inside," she said with a laugh. "The Waterville church we played last spring (and) we had a great, really wonderful audience. It's a beautiful church, and we're looking forward to going back to both places." The sweet-sounding siblings, whose family is from the Waterville area, are coming off one... of the most successful summers ever. They
performed the National Anthem at Fenway Park in front of 33,000 people at a July 7 Red Sox game and also got to play the main stage at the famed Falconridge Folk Festival. This past summer also marked the release of the twin's fifth album, "Clearwater." "It came out in June of 2002," Thompson said. "We will be playing a lot of the music from Clearwater and the title track is about the actual boat, The Clearwater, which was refurbished. I think it might have also been built in Deer Isle, so there's a Maine connection there." Maine's own Cordon Bok was one of the first to be on the crew on that ship. . _"We learned that when we opened for him!"
|Seacoast Newspaper - December 2002 - John Swinconeck top|
The Thompson Twins|
Chris & Meredith Thompson with Curt Besette opening, Saturday, 8 p.m. at the Kennebunk Coffee House at the First Parish Unitarian Church. For ticket information, call 985-3700.
Chris & Meredith Thompson play a mixture of contemporary folk and world music influences and incredible harmonies. At their Kennebunk performance, they will be playing some traditional holiday music, as well as original music,. including songs from their June release, "Clearwater." John Swinconeck spoke with Chris and Meredith Thompson about the roots of their music, the importance of storytelling, and the harmony and dichotomy of being twins.
John Swinconeck: Where did your world music influences originate?
Meredith Thompson: We feel that by blending instruments it keeps live performances interesting. We use a mix of flutes and drums and other instruments, like guitars. A few years ago, I started learning African drumming, and Afro?Cuban drumming, and fell in love with those sounds.
JS: What can we expect at the Kennebunk show?
CT: Meredith plays flute. Meredith and me play guitar. We tell stories about the songs, and what images sparks a song.
MT: That's what the difference is between listening to a CD or the radio and going to a live convert. You get the Behind The Music thing just by going to a concert.
JS: What do you want your audience to feel after one of your performances?
CT: A lot say they feel uplifted. I think that's important. The stories we mix in that set is something. That [the audience] recognize the music, but they learned about something else from the stories is kind of cool. We do a lot of storytelling.
JS: Being that you are twins who have chosen to pursue a music career together, I take it you don't grate on each other's .nerves much?
CT: Meredith and I get along very well. We've always been a team. It's a little different for twins. Twins have a very close bond. We don't have trouble get ting along. Meredith and I often write songs together. Meredith is the organized partner. She keeps us on track, and she's also an excellent harmony singer.
MT: If this was a corporation, Chris would be the Creative Director.
JS: Why was "Amazing Grace" included on "Clearwater"? What do you bring that's new to it?
CT: Interestingly enough, I didn't want to include "Amazing Grace" on the album. What happened was we were at a folk festival back in 1998. Martin Sexton was on stage. We had met him, and he was singing "Amazing Grace," and he couldn't remember the second verse. He pulled me on stage and I sang the second verse and . Meredith joined in. People liked the way we sang it so much. What's different about it is Meredith's harmony. MT: We've heard from other musicians that really like our arrangement of that song. Something that is highlighted is we also sing in unison. Singing the same note right on is very difficult. Being twins, we can sing and if we hit it right it sounds like one person singing, like having stereo speakers.
For more information on Chris and Meredith Thompson, visit their web site at www.cmthompson.com
|Hartford Courant - December 2002 - Eric Danton top|
Twins like their style of success
It's difficult to define true success in the music business. Is it money? Fame? Radio airplay?. Sure, for Lenny Kravitz or Britney Spears, who sell gazillions of albums and show up in more TV commercials than music videos.
Meredith Thompson and her twin sister, Chris, have a different idea of what makes a musician successful. The sisters have released five independent folk albums since 1996, including this year's "Clearwater," and have toured to build a fan base of people who love their ghostly vocal harmonies, poignant lyrics and world music textures.
While Meredith Thompson wouldn't turn down the trappings of traditional success, she says the Thompson sisters aren't seeking them, either.
"There are only a very, very few performers who can be superstars. But there are a ton of smaller networks you can tap into," she said by phone from her home in Boston, where the sisters were preparing for a CD release performance Saturday in Granby. "I think that success can be determined just by having performances that people attend and enjoy the music and you can communicate with people on a certain level; that is the way I feel successful as a musician."
"Clearwater" alone is enough to define the duo as a success. The dozen tunes on the album are beautifully arranged folk songs, full of acoustic guitar, flute and elements of world music percussion. The Thompsons wrote 10 of the songs and included covers of "Amazing Grace" and Dave Carter's "Tanglewood Tree." (The album is available online at www.cmthompson.com.)
Carter, who died of a heart attack in July, the night before he was scheduled to perform at the Green River Festival in Massachusetts, was a big influence on the Thompsons, as he was on many folk artists.
"He was such a good guy. Everybody was very sad that that happened," Thompson said. "We planned to get together and then one thing after another happened and we said, 'OK, we'll see you at Falcon Ridge [an annual folk festival in New York that happens the weekend after Green River].' And we didn't. It really makes you think, you know."
The sisters' version of "Tanglewood Tree" is a fitting tribute to Carter, and the song, like the rest of the album, features performances by some of the usual suspects in the New England folk scene. Guitarists Duke Levine (Jonatha Brooke, Mark Erelli) and Jim Henry (Cliff Eberhardt, Erelli), drummer Doug Plavin (Bill Morrissey), bassist Richard Gates (Morrissey) and organist Seth Farber (Eberhardt) all lend their considerable talents to "Clearwater."
"It's neat. There's a community of musicians as well as a community of listeners, and there's a community of radio stations, too," Thompson said. The sisters are New England natives and grew up in Providence, where they played their first gig at the folk club Stone Soup. After attending Cornell, the Thompsons lived with their parents in Pittsburgh and began touring, driving themselves around the country to perform at coffeehouses and folk clubs.
"For 215 years we toured around the country doing it full-time," Thompson said.' I think we did 300 shows a year atone point, and some of them weren't that great. It was baptism by fire, but I think it was an experience I needed to have."
When their parents moved to Simsbury, the sisters moved with them and stayed in the Hartford area for about 18 months before moving to Boston.
"There are a lot of neat coffeehouses in the area. We really, really felt that Hartford was a supportive community, but we felt that we wanted to move here," Thompson said.
Though "Clearwater" actually came out over the summer, the sisters' performance Saturday is their first in the area since the album's release. "We haven't gotten back to Hartford and Providence, which are two of our favorite places to play," Thompson said.
Chris and Meredith Thompson perform Saturday at Pilgrim Covenant Church, 605 Salmon Brook St., Granby. Lisa Lawrence of West Hartford opens. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Information: 860.653-3800.
|Providence Journal - December 2002 - Music scene by Vaughn Watson: top|
Two CD-release concerts: folksinging
twins, dance-mix DJ - 12/05/2002
Two record-release concerts will be held in Rhode Island this weekend.
The first is for Clearwater, the fourth disk from songwriter twins Chris and Meredith Thompson. The album creates a vivid world of images and intentions. The Thompsons hold a CD-release show for the disk on Saturday at Stone Soup Coffeehouse.
"Chris and I like to paint pictures using words," says Meredith Thompson in a phone interview.
Indeed, Clearwater brings to mind Tori Amos's latest album, Scarlet's Walk. Amos told the story of diverse communities through the perspective of a single protagonist, the Scarlet of the title. The Thompson sisters, Classical High School graduates now based in Somerville, Mass., write and perform richly told stories of native communities and cultures.
The characters on their journey are natives of the Andes region and coastal Africa, places where history is secreted away in stories told as songs, accompanied by drums or stringed instruments.
The Latin tinged "Neruda" praises a poet who spoke out on the behalf of peasants, farmers and union workers. The song is named for Pablo Neruda, who turned to activism after a friend and fellow poet, Garcia Lorca, was assassinated for his political beliefs.
"He decided pretty early on that he wanted to be a poet," says Meredith Thompson. "He moved to Santiago -- the New York City of Chile. His dad wasn't too happy. He traveled the world and became a consul. He really became a voice of his country.
". . . At one point, he was giving a speech. Officials wouldn't open the union hall. These tanks came over the crest of the hill. The people surrounded Neruda so that [the authorities] couldn't get to him."
"FORGOTTEN," A GEM of melodic singing and bittersweet storytelling, recalls a more universal story.
"There are days I think that I have almost forgotten the first time we ever met," the sisters sing. "But then the sky turns from gray into silver, and the sun tosses her rays into the river, and I want to tug your sleeve and ask if you can see it."
The Thompsons match the songs' lyrical content to the traditional instruments and sounds of the regions they represent. The sterling vocal harmony in "Harvest Moon" calls to mind a medieval chant. "Neruda" includes conga and other percussion.
"I love Latin music -- that percussion is so crisp," Meredith Thompson says. "There is no one person banging on a set of drums. The percussion section is a community effort in itself."
Chris and Meredith Thompson, with Liz Queler opening, play Saturday at Stone Soup Coffeehouse, Slater Mill Historic Site, 67 Roosevelt Ave., Pawtucket; 457-7147. Tickets are $10 for the 8 p.m. show.
|Indie-Music article top|
Reviews: Chris & Meredith Thompson ~
Wood and Stone
Posted on Sunday, March 31 @ 23:13:24 EST
Artist: Chris & Meredith Thompson CD: Wood and Stone
Quote: "A little sharp edge in the middle of all these other tasty ingredients keeps it really interesting".
By Les Reynolds
Sophisticated poetic harmonies and engaging lyrics. Pretty much sums up this Massachusetts acoustic duo's latest release on Alkali Records.
The Thompson twins (but not THAT group from the '80's) have excellent vocal delivery accompanied by fingerstyle acoustic guitar, interesting rhythms and mischevious-sounding flute -- often bringing the ballad style of Merrie Olde England to mind.
They do bring other sounds to the mix along with their New England nasality. "Three Day Ride" makes you think The Laura Love Band has infiltrated the CD. The next melody slithers around the lyrics and gives it a bit of a Vivian Slade atmosphere. Actually, this is one of the CD's best tunes overall. Instrumentally, "Katahdin," with its playful mix of flute, congas and fingerstyle guitar gets the nod for top tune. Vocally, "The Letter" gets the vote.
Throughout the CD, Crit Harmon's clear and precise guitar can be heard just enough to enhance the tunes. Meredith is the one on congas and flute while Chris aids Chris on guitar. Both women have beautiful voices in their own right, but it's the blend of the two that really gives the songs their true character.
And lyrically, it's almost too close to call since they're all good. Pick one and it'll be rich with imagery and craftsmanship. "Beholder," for instance:
"...If truth is beauty then we must remember that beauty lies in the syes of the beholder.They also can hit deep and close to home.
"A House Divided" a tune about the difficulties and troubles of raising a child:
"...A house divided is only gonna fall...A little sharp edge in the middle of all these other tasty ingredients keeps it really interesting.
|Dirty Linen Jan/Feb2000 top|
This third recording by twin sisters Chris & Meredith Thompson shows the duo coming into their own. The production by Crit Harmon makes good use of the sister’s unique harmony, and uses mostly acoustic backing (guitars, flute, bass, congas, violin) to bring out the best in the lyrics. Both sisters write songs that tell stories, some that draw on historical events, some on personal experiences, but all show a concern with the problems of the world toy (no lightweight love songs here). The recording is different from most singer/songwriters in a good way, and demonstrates that the two are only getting better. A pair to watch for. (JLe)
|Victory Review Seattle, WA p 15 September 2000 top|
Review: Chris & Meredith Thompson
Wood & Stone Moka Music/Alkali Records
The Thompson’s amazing voices will draw you into this fine collection first, and gradually you’ll note the superb material they write. These twin sisters are new to me, but they hail from Massachusetts, and this is the third release of original material. Like other great sibling singers like Cape Breton’s Rankin family of the Black Family of Ireland, their voices are completely joined and beautiful on the twelve numbers here. Chris plays flute and Meredith plays guitar, with subtle musical support from Matt Levenworth on violin, Greg Holt on Bass, and Steve Wilkes on percussion. This is not quite folk, though the songs belong more in the social narrative than pop. . With echoes of the Indigo Girls and the McGarrigle Sisters, the duo incorporates jazz flavoring and precisely articulated vocal harmonies into the songs of history and social consciousness. “Hathaway” tells a Springsteen-ish story of a woman who faces a closed factory after years of work, and “Hometown” is as real as the last headline of a school killing in another small town. “House Divided” gives credence to the perspective of a single mom who’s sick of her whiny teenager. Based on the intelligent songs and sophisticated settings here I’d say they are definitely worth checking out. The Thompsons will appear in our area September 21,22,23,24. (Bill Compton)
|Metronome Magazine September, 2000 page 8 Boston MA top|
Chris & Meredith Thompson “Wood & Stone” 12 song CD
Wood & Stone
Sisters (I’m not sure if their twins) Chris and Meredith Thompson are leading the charge for folk and Celtic music into the new century. Their miraculous vocal harmonies could only be the reverberation of sisters that share the same genetic makeup. Because trust me folks, strangers don’t make music as beautifully as there sisters do.Profound arrangements by the sounds of Meredith’s flute and congas playing coupled [to] Chris acoustic guitar work is tightly wrapped up by their sweet angelic voices. Few performers have moved me like the Thompsons, and after one listen, I’m confidant you’ll be moved too. Superb!
|The Seacoast Observer: Spotlight September 28, 2000 New Hampshire top|
Mary Ann Robertson
Thompson twins Celebrate the Human Spirit
Chris and Meredith Thompson are twin sisters. Together they form one of the most dynamic, innovative sound in the world of folk and acoustic music.
As they busily increase their bevy of fans by playing in venues nationwide, their roots become stronger. In spite of being busy, both women embrace the support of audiences in the Northeast as often as possible.
During this interview, which took place via phone as the Thompsons waited to catch a connecting flight in [from] Seattle, Meredith said: ”The community that comes together is one of the great things about the folk world. This is especially true in the Northeast where there are many great venues and where the radio support is so widespread.”
This Friday, September 29 at 8pm, the Thompsons will appear at the Stone Church on Zion hill in Newmarket, NH. Meredith sways they plan to play songs from each of their four CDs, recorded between 1996 and 2000, adding “We like to play the songs people may already know; but we’re always writing so we want to play some new things as well. “
On Friday, the Thompsons will share the stage with their cousin, a musician well known in the Seacoast area. Ethan Bessey, who was part of the band Dreadnaught, is now doing more solo work and will be joining his cousins.
Through their music, the Thompsons celebrate the human spirit. The stories their lyrics tell come from a variety of sources. The song “Wildfire” tells of the Irish Potato Famine of the 1940’s (1840s’). “Dead River” tells the story of Flagstaff Maine, which disappeared from the map in 1955.
Several songs on their CD “Wood and Stone” tells stories of the power of human spirit in a variety of settings during different time periods. “Three Day Ride” tells of a woman who drove from Zanesville Ohio to Brooks Maine in the 1920’s. “Hathaway” tells of a woman who worked in a shirt factory on the day she met the woman who would ultimately close the factory. “House Divided” tells of a divorced woman who acknowledges it is time to stand up for herself even as her children turn away from her. “Katahdin” is an instrumental, which evokes the beauty of sunrise in one of the first places in the U. S. to see the sun each morning.
The Thompson’s history telling and social commentary show the influence of songwriters like Woody Guthrie, Phil Ochs, Tracy Chapman and Gillian Welch. The list their musical influences as Solas, Dave Brubeck, Laura Love, Psoas and Trillian Green, and eclectic bunch to say the least. Their lyrics draw audiences in and make people want to listen to these stories. As relevant as the lyrics are, their music is equally absorbing. South American and Celtic influences are easily heard. Chris plays jazz and folk influenced guitar. Meredith plays flute and percussion instruments. Their rhythms are unpredictable, yet their melodies are lyrical. Their arrangements are sophisticated.
When they write, Meredith said, they usually work on the music first. “Generally Chris comes up with the melody and I write the lyrics, but not always. We really work together. But usually we have the music first and then work on the story that fits the music,” she said.
It is their mix of intriguing music with stories of people’s hopes and dreams that makes the Thompson’s music so compelling.
That and their vocals. The sisters singing voices are almost identical; their tight vocal harmonies, mesmerizing. One of the places this can be heard most clearly is on their latest CD of just five songs, released earlier this month, titled “LIVE at Club Passim.” It was recorded during their show there on Feb. 2, 2000. Meredith said,” The live album has an organic feel. It sounds like we actually sound.”
Club Passim, in Cambridge Mass, is where some of the areas best-known folk artists, Ellis Paul, Patty Larkin and Dar Williams, got their start. Back in the days when it was own as Club 47,artists like Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and Judy Collins played there.
“So you can see why we wanted to have out live CD recorded there,” Meredith said.
The Thompsons played the Hudson Clearwater Revival on June 17. They were special guests at the Falcon Ridge Folk festival in Hillsdale NY in July 1999, where they shared the bill with Cheryl Wheeler, Greg Brown and Ani DiFranco.
In May 1998, they participated in the “Folk Next Door” concert in Hartford CT, just a month after the Providence Phoenix nominated them as “Rhode Islands Best Folk Act”. And, they were one of 20 finalists in over 100 entries in the contest to open for 1998’s Lilith Fair.
Local audiences might already be familiar with the Thompsons. They opened for Brooks Willaims at the Kennebunk Coffeehouse in Kennebunk Maine early in the summer. They then played the Kittery Seaside Festival, and they have already appeared once this year at the Stone Church.
For anyone who hasn’t heard them, and even for those who have, the opportunity to hear them again at the Stone Church is a welcome one. Their Friday Sept 29 performance is at 8pm. On Saturday Sept 30 at 8pm they will play at the Aaron Cutler Memorial Library Community Coffeehouse in Litchfield, NH.
On Sunday morning, from 10am to 12pm,theywill join disc jockey Jack beard on WUNH (91.3fm) radio. And Sunday evening, Oct 1 at 7pm, the Thompsons will play for the First Sunday Coffeehouse at the town Hall in Ware.
|At The Shore: Shore Nights Page 16 March 31, 2000 Ventnor, NJ top|
Matthew J. Dowling, Staff Writer
As a pair of twin sisters who perform music as a duo, Chris and Meredith Thompsons have probably head every attempt to bemuse their common birthday and strikingly similar appearance. What the Thompsons would rather come across, however, is the common passion the sisters have fro performing and composing folk/pop music. The fact that they’re sisters simply means that they’ve been playing together for years.
And that has its distinctive advantages. “We’re very tight,” Meredith says. “Sometimes we don’t even have to look at each other to know when to start playing.”
The Thompsons pride themselves on an innate ability to weave harmonies- often compared to that of the Indigo Girls- throughout their music. The knack for gripping harmonies, Meredith admits, is an advantage of having voices that match almost as well as the contours of their faces. Typically, one sister will take the higher notes for the songs melody, but it is not uncommon for them to switch mid-song.
The Boston-based duo will bring their acoustic show to the Piping Plover Acoustic Music Society at the United Methodist Church in Ventnor on Friday March 31.
“I’m always looking for different places to play,” Meredith says. “We’ve tried to really build an audience. We’re always out there performing.”
The Thompsons have been playing together since high school, where they began taking on open mic nights at local coffeehouses. They even made a demo tape of some of their songs.
When the time came for college, the Thompsons set off to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY together. The arts-oriented atmosphere at Cornell allowed the Thompsons to met and hear many other musicians play. During that time, the sisters also continued to play together and polish their sound.
But the real exploration took place after Meredith and Chris graduated. “After college, I decided I wanted to see the country, so we took it on the road,” Meredith says. “We love to play concerts. We love to meet people.”
Meredith says most of the songs she and Chris write come from stories they collect from people they encounter rather than personal experience. Chris tends to handle most of the music-writing duties while Meredith writes most of the lyrics.
Meredith says the writing process involves serious thought about how to involve the different instruments-including flute, congas and guitar- the duo frequently uses on songs.
“We put a lot of thought into the music, the harmonies and how things fit together,” Meredith says. “WE like to have imagery in music. That adds to the description of the song.”
The duo has released three albums together, including the CD, “Wood and Stone”, early last year. Chris and Meredith have been touring to support the release with about 150 shows a year, including some larger festivals.
The Thompsons work has caught attention in various places. A local Boston folk music station placed two of the Tracks from “wood and Stone” into medium rotation last summer.
“Boston has a really neat music scene,” Meredith says.
In addition, Chris and Meredith were among the finalists for opening duties on the 1998 Lilith Fair tour. The duo have been scheduled to palythe2000 Hudson Clearwater Hudson Revival in New York this summer and were specials guests in last year’s Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Hilldale NY.
“It takes 10 years to make an overnight success, “ Meredith says. But that won’t stop the sister’s from continuing to build on each new step in the process, she says.
Chris and Meredith have been working to expand their fan base throughout the Northeast. Both still maintain part time jobs with flexible hours to allow for travel. “We both have part time jobs to support the music habit,” Meredith says. “Recording is very expensive.” The sisters released their first album “Ithaca in 1996 and the second release “Shadyside” came in 1998.
Meredith says they are already working on a live CD to follow up the success on “Wood and Stone” It is tentatively scheduled for release sometime this summer, though a date has not been set yet.
“I don’t want to jinx it,” Meredith jokes. “We’ve recorded some shows. We’re still working on it. We have a pretty busy spring and a pretty busy summer planned.”
CD review: “Wood & Stone,” Chris and Meredith Thompson (Alkali)
As is often the case in folk music, the strength of the Thompsons music is powered by storytelling. The lyrical focus of several tracks requires some worthwhile attention.
“House Divided”, for example, tells the speaks to the struggle of a woman facing the reality of divorce with lines like “I give all that I have to keep this house my home, and I gotta stand for something, now that I stand alone.”
Other tracks such as “Orchard” allow the imagination to wander through the imagery the sisters create both with words and mesmerizing arrangements.
And the Thompsons prove that they’re not afraid to take an occasional risk. Despite the outstanding guitar, violin and flute played throughout, the Thompsons shirk all instruments on “Children” to lay the raw delicacy of their voices to bare. And on “Katahdin,” the sisters take the opposite approach by removing all the lyrics (except two lines) to allow their instrumental strengths to shine with Chris on guitar and Meredith on flute.
On “Wood and Stone,” the Thompsons offer a complete package for musical exploration through an excellent collection of folk music worthy of a trip to the Internet to order the disc. When the only real criticism is that 12 tracks weren’t enough, you know you’ve found a keeper. (“Wood and Stone” is available at www.cmthompson.com/music.html or amazon.com)
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