Richard Thompson has found a second calling as a teacher. This past July, the British folk-rock legend hosted the fifth edition of Frets and Refrains, a guitar and songwriting camp held at the Catskills’ Full Moon Resort, about 30 miles west of Woodstock. For four days, attendees enjoyed intimate classes in composition and technique courtesy of Thompson, his singer-songwriter son Teddy and other accomplished artists such as Happy Traum and Jill Sobule.
As Thompson told Rolling Stone in an interview filmed on site at the 2016 camp, teaching offers fulfillment for him as well as his students. “It’s a very rewarding thing if you can devise a class that actually does enrich people,” he says. He goes on to explain that his instruction is about more than just the mechanics of music. “What we do as teachers, we impart philosophy,” Thompson explains. “Or maybe it’s musical taste. I want people to like the music that I like, to think about music the way I think about music.”
At the same time that he’s imparting wisdom to his students, the 67-year-old guitarist, who released the Jeff Tweedy–produced Still in 2015, remains committed to improving his own craft. In the clip, he discusses how he draws inspiration from classical guitarists and often spends eight to 10 hours a day practicing. “It’s always a challenge to maintain what you do, first of all, and then look for ways to go beyond what you do, to explore,” he says. “If you’re not doing it, you’re kind of dead, in a sense.”
Watch Richard Thompson perform “Beatnik Walking”:
Watch Richard Thompson perform “Stony Ground”: