Liz Thomson is a London-based journalist who has contributed articles and interviews to newspapers and magazines around the world. A contributor to The New Grove Dictionary of Music & Musicians, she is the co-editor (with David Gutman) of quasi-academic studies of John Lennon, Bob Dylan and David Bowie, and the author of a forty-year celebration of Chickenshed, the uniquely inclusive theatre company. She has lectured at Liverpool University’s Institute of Popular Music, Kingston University, University College London, Oxford Brookes, and the New School (New York), and she has been a Visiting Fellow of the Open University Sixties Research Group. An occasional broadcaster, she has conducted live interviews with authors on platforms at literary festivals from Dartington to Dubai and points in between.
Liz writes regularly for the I and the Guardian, and is a contributing editor to TheArtsDesk.com. These days, much of her time is dedicated to The Village Trip, the Greenwich Village celebration of arts and activism she founded in 2018 and of which she is Joint Artistic Director with Cliff Pearson.
Joan Baez: The Last Leaf, a celebration of the life and sixty-year career of the renowned American singer and social activist, was published throughout the anglophone world by Palazzo Editions in October 2020. A French translation was published by Le Castor Astral in 2022, and a Turkish edition is due shortly from Agora Books.
The book was honoured at the 2021 Association for Recorded Sound Collections Awards for Excellence in Historical Recorded Sound Research.
A new illustrated edition of Bob Dylan: No Direction Home by Robert Shelton, the late New York Times journalist whose review established Dylan’s career, was published in 2021, in Britain, the US and Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and in France and the Czech Republic.
The Village Trip, a celebration of arts and activism in New York’s Greenwich Village, was launched in 2018. The three-day event featured music, poetry, drama, and photography. A free concert in Washington Square Park honouring the rich musical legacy of the Village which was headlined by Suzanne Vega in 2018 and by Steve Earle in 2019. David Amram, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist whose long career is intimately entwined with the Village, is the festival’s Artist Emeritus. Liz’s essay on working with him is published in The Many Worlds of David Amram, Renaissance Man of American Music (Routledge).
The Village Trip 2021 took place over nine days in September, with 30 events at venues across Greenwich Village. Bobby Sanabria and His Multiverse Big Band and special guest Janis Siegel of The Manhattan Transfer headlined the concert in Washington Square Park, a high-energy musical party honouring Downtown’s Puerto Rican heritage that rallied the Village after Covid.
Since 2022, The Village Trip has spanned two weeks and has extended its reach into the East Village, presenting some seventy events annually. These include a greatly expanded classical and new music programme, as well as rock, folk and jazz, an art show, and a burgeoning children’s programme, as well as walks and talks and an annual lecture. The festival explores and honours the rich and rainbow-coloured social-political and cultural history of this unique neighbourhood. Notable events have included a centennial celebration of Jack Kerouac, including a star-studded reading of On the Road at the historic Strand Book Store, and a multimedia event marking the sixtieth anniversary of the March on Washington and the ongoing struggle for equality and justice at the Great Hall of Cooper Union where Abraham Lincoln spoke and the NAACP was born. Jamie Bernstein, the Maestro’s daughter, and Janis Siegel featured in unique cabaret performances of Wonderful Town, Leonard Bernstein’s downtown musical. Concerts honoured the city’s Jewish heritage, and its historic Ukrainian connections with a day of events that raised money for the Ukraine Children’s Action Project.
The Village Trip 2024 will run from September 14 through 28, from Washington Square Park to Tompkins Square Park. Among its themes: a centennial celebration of James Baldwin.