WOW! That is the best description I can think of this early in the morning. On the 15th of November, we saw Sonny Landreth at the Cabooze Bar, a small bar in Minneapolis. The Cabooze is one of the best places to see a band up close, as we sat at the end of the bar, about 15 feet from the stage. We were able to watch Sonny and his incredible slide guitar technique close up. The crowd was great, too, and were going crazy from the first song, Port of Calling. The crowd was mostly baby boomer age, with as many women as men.
He played many of the songs from the Grant Street Live Cd, and a few new ones from his new release, From the Reach.
"Überesso" was one of the most amazing guitar songs I ever heard. To see him play in close up was great as well.
He played two Stratocasters, each in different tunings. The Strats were probably reissues of a 1957 and a 1962. The rosewood necked Strat looked like it had an ash body. His amp was the 75 watt Demeter that he mentions on his website. The Dumble amp was not there. Dumble amps are the so called "holy grail" of guitar amps. I do not know about that, though. Sonny would probably make my little Peavey Classic 30 sound great.
I would see Sonny play again in a heartbeat. He played up here twice this year. I can't imagine him coming back in 2009, as he has been on the road almost the whole year. But if he does, I will be first in line.
I have been trying to learn how to play in his style. Sonny plays notes behind the fret where the slide is. Very difficult for most of us, but he is able to play many chords even with the guitar in open tuning. I have set up a Strat with .13-.56 strings - piano wire to me! I raised the action higher than normal, added a bit of echo and am nowhere near getting this down! It is fun to try, though. After seeing Derek Trucks at the same bar, close up, I was able to improve my slide playing, just be watching what he did. Maybe I can do the same here...although I doubt it will sound anywhere near as good as Sonny! I will be annoying my family with it for months now!
Saturday, November 8, 2008
I just got a CD by Sonny Landreth called "Grant Street". This is a live recording, showing him in all his Dumble-amp powered glory!
I just cannot believe how good of a guitarist he is. I have known about him for years - he is not a newcomer on the music scene at all.
Sonny, born in 1951, is from Louisiana. His slide technique is extraordinary, as mentioned in his Wikipedia entry: "Landreth has developed a technique where he also frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments behind the slide while he plays. Landreth plays with the slide on his little finger, so that his other fingers have more room to fret behind the slide. He's also known for his unique right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand."
I have been watching his videos on YouTube, and can't even come close to getting his technique down, although I am trying, mostly in vain!
That is ok, I can just enjoy his music without trying to sound like him. He plays American Standard Stratocasters with special tuning hardware, which allows him to change the tunings with the flick of a switch. He uses many different open-chord tunings. I am awestruck on what he can do in open E, which is one of the most-used open tunings. His amps are all boutique, and he has been using a coveted Dumble amp, along with a Demeter. That would help explain his fantastic tone, although he would probably sound good on my cheap Classic 30, too.
Sonny has appeared on many other artists songs, such as Little Feat, Jimmy Buffett, John Hiatt, Waterline, John Mayall, Bobby Charles and The Goners. He has performed with Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Steve Conn, Gov't Mule, Mike Gordon, Bernie Worrell, and Buddy Guy, among others. Landreth was the opening act at Eric Clapton's 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival in Chicago, Illinois.
There are quite a few videos of Sonny on Youtube. If you are a fan of slide gutiar, and of great guitar playing, you owe it to yourself to check them out.
Luckily, I discovered Sonny at the right time, as he is in town at the Cabooze next weekend. I already have my tickets and am looking forward to seeing him.
Posted by Tom C at 9:46 AM