At the close of his most recent album, Still, Richard Thompson launches into "Guitar Heroes," a song where the British musician pays tribute to his many idols (in a series of passages he mimics the guitar stylings of Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Chuck Berry and more) while downplaying his own abilities. "Now I stand on the stage and I do my stuff," he sings. "And maybe it's good, but it's never good enough."

At the close of his most recent album, Still, Richard Thompson launches into "Guitar Heroes," a song where the British musician pays tribute to his many idols (in a series of passages he mimics the guitar stylings of Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, Chuck Berry and more) while downplaying his own abilities. "Now I stand on the stage and I do my stuff," he sings. "And maybe it's good, but it's never good enough."

He's being too modest. Driven by a natural curiosity, Thompson, 66, has amassed an encyclopedic musical knowledge and a wide-ranging skillset best exhibited by his 2003 album 1000 Years of Popular Music, which, as its title suggested, found the guitarist tackling songs that span numerous centuries, covering everything from medieval folk ballads up through Britney Spears' "Oops!... I Did It Again."

Here, surrounded by masses decked out in "Kiss Me I'm Irish" T-shirts, he'll likely focus his attentions on a collection of Celtic folk tunes - a passion that dates back to his earliest days in Fairport Convention, a band that bridged the gap between Celtic folk music and 1960s rock 'n' roll.

"As a songwriter, I'm mostly influenced by the traditional music of England, Ireland and Scotland, and that's what I keep coming back to," he said in an interview last year. "You hear a song that's 400 years old and it still speaks to you, and you can feel the reverberations through history of this song. You can hear the voices of the people who've been singing it and handing it down and polishing it and refining it. It's such a beautiful thing. Once you get a taste for it, I think it never leaves you."