Michael Thompson's Musical Sojourn
Down South, at the 1974 Union Grove Music Festival, a young "fingerpicker" took first prize with a dazzling rendition of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag," showcasing what many would simply define as Travis-style guitar. Already, Michael had become a musical Huck Finn of sorts, exploring ragtime, Delta and Piedmont Blues, mystical folk melodies, and the uptown swing of Duke Ellington. However, one would quickly detect in the repertoire of intricate arrangements and chops that highlighted his tenure as North Carolina's longest running "artist in residence" deeper influences.
Classically trained by Jesus Silva, a student of Andres Segovia; and as UNC-Chapel Hill's first guitar major, his affection for music of older worlds and times would lead him far from his native home. The Sleepy Gypsy showcases what is both a departure from the familiar and a return to his creative source: musical sketches from his land of dreamy dreams.
In another decade the gypsy would be walking the streets of New Orleans, waiting to board a three year stint on the Mississippi Queen Riverboat. This confluence of influence is magically evident in the choruses of "Sweet Lorraine" where the whole band goes to work on a single guitar. And even further south, after excursions into the islands and across the Gulf of Mexico, the eclectic journey continues with an Afro-Cuban lullaby and folk songs that bring us rich tonalities from other latitudes--refreshing attitudes. Hey Paracho Joe, what are you doing with that guitar in your hand ?
… And when night falls, who knows where the gypsy sleeps ?
But when he awakes…