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
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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Newport Folk Festival
4:28 pm
Sat July 28, 2012

First Aid Kit, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Erik Jacobs Erik Jacobs for NPR

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

  • First Aid Kit Live From Newport

The young Swedish sisters in First Aid Kit got their break when their cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" became a gigantic hit on YouTube, attracting three million views and many comparisons to, well, Fleet Foxes.

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Newport Folk Festival
4:11 pm
Sat July 28, 2012

Alabama Shakes, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2012

Erik Jacobs for NPR

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 9:32 am

  • Alabama Shakes Live From Newport

For all the attention Alabama Shakes' music has attracted in 2012 — and its album Boys & Girls marked a huge breakthrough earlier this year — the live stage is where the soulful blues-rock band transcends mere "one to watch" status. Boys & Girls is the work of polished professionals at the top of their game, but in concert, Alabama Shakes' music reaches ecstatic, sprawling, rafter-shaking heights.

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