Stephen Thompson

Stephen Thompson is an editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he curates Song of the Day, 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, Weekend All Things Considered and Morning Edition, on which he earned the distinction of becoming the only 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 forthcoming anthology 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 Frogger machine. 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
2:45 pm
Mon July 30, 2012

tUnE-yArDs, Live In Concert: Newport Folk Festival 2012

tUnE-yArDs performs on the Harbor Stage at the Newport Folk Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 8:39 am

Merrill Garbus, the mastermind behind tUnE-yArDs, often uses a minimal assortment of resources — a ukulele, some pedals, a bit of percussion here and there — to craft an explosive, unpredictable, worldly, beautiful and utterly inventive sound. On last year's widely beloved w h o k i l l, Garbus' music forms a cut-up collage of coos, howls and bold statements of purpose, but her live shows fan out into epic rave-ups, complete with a pair of saxophonists.

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Newport Folk Festival
10:27 am
Mon July 30, 2012

Blind Pilot, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Blind Pilot performs at the 2012 Newport Folk Festival.
Douglas Mason
  • Blind Pilot Live From Newport

Since expanding from a duo into a sextet, Blind Pilot has given its warmly catchy, charmingly delicate folk-pop a bit of a propulsive kick: For all the band's sweet, easy-going grace, it's a special pleasure to hear it apply a percussive jolt to songs like "We Are the Tide." Released last year, the album of the same name is consistently engaging, but Israel Nebeker's songs about nature and desire sound best when Blind Pilot puts some muscle behind them.

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Newport Folk Festival
6:02 pm
Sun July 29, 2012

Charles Bradley, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires perform at the Fort Stage at the Newport Folk Festival.
Erik Jacobs Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Tue April 2, 2013 11:13 am

  • Charles Bradley Live From Newport

Charles Bradley's road to fame took him through a childhood inspired by James Brown and a long life of day jobs and family tragedies — and then, in his early 60s, his life took a glorious turn.

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Newport Folk Festival
2:43 pm
Sun July 29, 2012

Dawes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Dawes performs on the Fort Stage at the Newport Folk Festival.
Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 12:14 pm

The L.A. band Dawes carries a serious torch for the greatest moments of rock's collision with folk and country: Buffalo Springfield, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band.

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Newport Folk Festival
9:34 am
Sun July 29, 2012

Spirit Family Reunion, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Tue October 2, 2012 8:38 am

  • Spirit Family Reunion Live From Newport

The last band to open for Levon Helm before his death earlier this year, Brooklyn's Spirit Family Reunion crafts a sweetly ramshackle Americana sound that's part secular gospel revival, part folk ramble.

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