Butch Thompson is one of the most prominent musicians in traditional jazz. Born in Marine-on-St. Croix, Minnesota, he was playing Christmas carols on his mother’s upright piano by age three, and began lessons at six. He picked up the clarinet in high school, and led his first jazz group, “Shirt Thompson and His Sleeves,” as a senior. He began his professional career at age 16 in Minnesota, and two years later was visiting New Orleans frequently to learn from veteran musicians like clarinetist George Lewis. He played American and European festivals during the 1960s and ’70s and began his solo recording
career in 1966. In 1974, he joined the staff of public radio’s A Prairie Home Companion, an association that continues to the present. In addition to extensive touring (he has traveled the world from Cairo to Tokyo), he finds time to write and teach. His writing has appeared in various magazines including Down Beat and The Mississippi Rag, and among his teaching credits are residencies at the American University in Cairo and the New England Conservatory of Music. His recordings include the Grammy-winning Doc Cheatham and Nicholas Payton on the Verve label and a long-running solo series on Daring Records of Boston.