The Old-Time Herald Volume 14, Number 6

“It’s Much More Romantic to Think of Yourself as Part of an Unbroken Tradition”:
An Interview with Suzy Rothfield Thompson
By Scott Prouty
Photo: Mike Melnyk

Suzy Rothfield Thompson was born in 1954 and grew up just outside New York City. Her family was musically engaged, and she and her siblings were given a classical music education early. Soon she discovered the world of commercial folk music which led ultimately to bluegrass and traditional music.

In the mid-1970s she made her way to the Bay area of California and has lived there ever since. She became highly active in the music scene both as a player and an organizer of workshops and events. Her longtime musical and life partner is Eric Thompson and they have collaborated together in many groups in addition to their own duo. Their musical activities range from the Southern old-time music most familiar to readers of this magazine to Cajun music, blues, bluegrass, Klezmer and ragtime. She is a veteran of many groups including the Any Old Time String Band and the California Cajun Orchestra. Most recently, Eric and Suzy have been performing as Thompsonia in a trio with their daughter Allegra.

Suzy has taught at numerous workshops and in 2003, she re-launched the Berkeley Old-Time Music Convention, a successful annual event that features concerts, workshops, and a string band contest. From 2011 – 2016 she served as Artistic Director at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Washington, where she renewed the emphasis on featuring older tradition bearers. While Suzy has been most active on the West Coast, she regularly teaches and tours nationwide.

I interviewed Suzy at her home in Berkeley, California, in October of 2015, and we traced the path of her extensive musical journey. –Scott Prouty

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