Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he writes the advice column The Good Listener, fusses over the placement of commas and appears as a frequent panelist on the podcasts All Songs Considered and Pop Culture Happy Hour. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the weekly NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk.

In 1993, Thompson founded The Onion's entertainment section, The A.V. Club, which he edited until December 2004. In the years since, he has provided music-themed commentaries for the NPR programs Weekend Edition Sunday, All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the first member of the NPR Music staff ever to sing on an NPR newsmagazine. (Later, the magic of AutoTune transformed him from a 12th-rate David Archuleta into a fourth-rate Cher.) Thompson's entertainment writing has also run in Paste magazine, The Washington Post and The London Guardian.

During his tenure at The Onion, Thompson edited the 2002 book The Tenacity of the Cockroach: Conversations with Entertainment's Most Enduring Outsiders (Crown) and copy-edited six best-selling comedy books. While there, he also coached The Onion's softball team to a sizzling 21-42 record, and was once outscored 72-0 in a span of 10 innings. Later in life, Thompson redeemed himself by teaming up with the small gaggle of fleet-footed twentysomethings who won the 2008 NPR Relay Race, a triumph he documents in a hard-hitting essay for the book This Is NPR: The First Forty Years (Chronicle).

A 1994 graduate of the University of Wisconsin, Thompson now lives in Silver Spring, Md., with his two children and a room full of vintage arcade machines. His hobbies include watching reality television without shame, eating Pringles until his hand has involuntarily twisted itself into a gnarled claw, using the size of his Twitter following to assess his self-worth, touting the immutable moral superiority of the Green Bay Packers and maintaining a fierce rivalry with all Midwestern states other than Wisconsin.

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Newport Folk Festival
10:01 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Colin Meloy, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Colin Meloy performs at the 2013 Newport Folk Festival.
Meaganc Beauchemin for NPR

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 12:24 pm

After a long flurry of activity culminating in the release of The Decemberists' 2011 album The King Is Dead, frontman Colin Meloy announced his long-running, best-selling band would take a lengthy hiatus.

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Newport Folk Festival
1:40 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

The Felice Brothers, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Meagan Beauchemin for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:48 pm

In the beginning of The Felice Brothers' career, the band, from New York's Catskills, specialized in rowdy, stompy rock 'n' roll. But the group has spent the last few years exploring the more reflective side of its barroom-friendly, accordion-enhanced sound on albums like the 2011 hit Celebration, Florida.

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Newport Folk Festival
1:30 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Lord Huron, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Meagan Beauchemin for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:47 pm

The L.A. band Lord Huron has figured out a way to blend the choirboy folk of a Fleet Foxes with the more roiling, polyrhythmic pursuits of a Vampire Weekend.

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Newport Folk Festival
1:19 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Black Prairie, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:45 pm

When Colin Meloy put The Decemberists on long-term hiatus to focus on other projects — including his own set at this year's Newport Folk Festival — the remaining members needed their own fresh musical outlet.

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Newport Folk Festival
1:12 pm
Mon July 29, 2013

Spirit Family Reunion, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2013

Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 2:46 pm

The Brooklyn band Spirit Family Reunion calls its sound "open-door gospel" — as in, gospel music that isn't tied to religion. It's another way of saying that the group plays wide-open songs of celebration, which in Spirit Family Reunion's case add up to a big, high-spirited, old-fashioned, appealingly playful folk-rock ramble, complete with vintage instruments and shout-along choruses performed around a single microphone.

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