“I think it’s a British thing. We hate self promotion,” he said. “We’re far too self deprecating and modest to do anything as crass as sell. This also explains why I’m so poor.” For musicians of Thompson’s caliber, poverty is relative. He doesn’t reap the monetary rewards of chart-topping albums or sold-out arenas, but he has the kind of fans that most artists would kill for.

Without significant radio support, media hype or music video glory, he still manages to draw people to his music – and to his concerts in particular.

“The music industry is more streamlined to something that I’m not,” Thompson told Pollstar. “Playing live is the focus of what I do and really always has been. I suppose the pop music business and the record-buying public are far more fickle. Sometimes it’s hard to get on the radio, sometimes it’s hard to get on TV or get the attention of the press. I’m not sure that reflects the desires of the audience. I think it just reflects the trends of the time. I tend to rely more on the consistency of a certain audience.”

His audience has come to rely on Thompson’s rare blend of virtuoso guitar playing and compelling songwriting. His legacy goes back to his days in Fairport Convention – the band that virtually invented British folk-rock – and he has never stopped improving his art – or his performance.

“I try to bring as high a quality as I can to the shows. More and more, I see my job being something like a troubadour, where you come to town and sing your songs. You go off to the next town; you cycle around every year of two.”

Right now, Thompson is continuing the tradition with a North American tour that will take him to theatres, clubs and festivals across the country. Itinerary highlights include three nights at the Birchmere in Alexandria, Va.; a show at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; and two nights at UCLA’s Royce Hall where he appears with Elvis Costello, Beck, and Marianne Faithfull in a .

The man is good to go, whatever the occasion. “The great thing about touring is the variety [of venues]. In small clubs it’s the intimacy – being able to take requests from the audience. In a larger venue, you can get great sound, people are seated comfortably, you can get a really energetic atmosphere. Festivals provide an altogether different kind of revelry.”

He joked that solo acoustic tours like this one are rife with debauchery but admitted the traveling can be tedious. “I keep a tough schedule. I envy circuses and opera companies because they can stay in one place for two weeks before moving on.”

On this outing, Thompson doesn’t have to peddle new songs to the audience. He’s (very gently) promoting a new best-of package, Action Packed – The Best Of The Capitol Years, set for release later this month.

Life could change for him if the buying public suddenly ditches teen pop, rage rock and hard core rap for his expertly crafted music. His days of intimate club dates and fan-picked set lists would be over.

“If I didn’t have that kind of life, I could learn to live with it,” he said. “If I was so huge I had to play stadiums, somehow I’d learn to live with it.”

Considering his track record with audiences, there’s no doubt that he could.