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Author: Subject: Sonny Landreth mentions Duane

Peach Head





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  posted on 1/18/2016 at 11:49 AM
Headline: Blues baron Sonny Landreth toasts bayou culture

If the city of Lafayette, in southwestern Louisiana, is considered the capital of Cajun country, one of its most well-regarded residents should be deemed the baron of the bayou blues.

Sonny Landreth, who has lived in Louisiana for more than five decades, ranks as one of the finest bluesmen around. He's also the creator of the "slydeco" sound, a manner of slide guitar playing that marries the spicy sounds of his upbringing and fondness for Deep South blues. The gumbo he cooks up has been successful: Five of his albums have made it to No. 4 or higher on the Billboard blues charts. His latest, 2015's Bound By the Blues, hit No. 1.

Landreth said he can't take full credit for the appeal of his music; he's simply channelling the greats, many of whom - Robert Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy, Elmore James - have songs covered by Landreth on Bound By the Blues.

"The blues is like going back to the Motherland, so that's always going to be a broad and deep experience," Landreth said from his home in the Breaux Bridge area near Lafayette.

"People still relate to it. The blues as a universal language speaks to people everywhere. Other types of music come and go as fads. But the real stuff sticks around."

Landreth, who turns 65 next month, constantly mines the sights, sounds and smells of his environment for inspiration. He grew up in a food-loving culture surrounded by Cajun and zydeco music, jazz, and rhythm and blues - influences that are reflected in his album titles, from Down in Louisiana (1985) to Levee Town (2000).

"Culture is such a big part of living here. Music, food and dance is such a big thing. That rich backdrop, so to speak, was really great for me. It had a profound influence."

He was a key member of Clifton Chenier's Red Hot Louisiana Band in the 1970s and played extensively in the backing bands for John Hiatt and Jimmy Buffett. He has some other, high-placed collaborators - namely Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits - but he's a singular entity when it comes to the slide guitar. While he's less well-known than Derek Trucks, he's on par with pretty much anyone in the guitar department.

Landreth, however, knows there is a ceiling he will never reach, having seen the slide master, Duane Allman, perform live with the Allman Brothers before his death in 1971.

"I knew then that I couldn't get too close to that, because he was so influential. I tended to go in another direction. I could still let him be an influence, but I needed to go somewhere else with it."

As for the one thing that Allman's playing taught him?

"He made me realize I wasn't playing loud enough," Landreth said with a laugh. "I had to go home and turn it up."

In 1967, Landreth had a run-in with another guitar legend, an experience that pops up on his latest recording.
He was 16 and at his most impressionable when he saw Jimi Hendrix perform in Baton Rouge, about an hour-long drive from where he lived. Landreth and his friends arrived early, hoping to meet Hendrix before his concert. They went to the venue, only to find out he was staying at the hotel next door.

"He was sitting in his room and we caught a quick peek of him listening to a playback on a reel-to-reel player. I realized years later that he was working on his Electric Ladyland album."

Landreth figured that would be his lone brush with Hendrix that day, so he headed for the hotel lobby.

"We were in the hotel gift shop downstairs, and he walks in to buy a toothbrush. Me and my buddy approached him and said: 'Excuse me, Jimi, what does Axis: Bold as Love mean?' He looked all scraggled and closed his eyes, before saying: 'It's like an analogy for the love a man has for a woman, and the world ... actually, I don't know, I just woke up.' That was the reality of what it was like to be on the road for him."

Years later, Landreth got to be friends with Noel Redding, Hendrix's bassist during that period, and Redding told Landreth he remembered the particular gig. Landreth commemorated that show in the title track to Bound By the Blues.

"It was a bummer of a gig for them because they had trouble with their equipment, and then Jimi flipped off someone who said some derogatory statement up front. When they got in the car and drove off, they were afraid for their lives, having heard stories about the Deep South."

 
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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 1/19/2016 at 05:20 AM
Gonna see Sonny in a few weeks for the first time, can't wait.
 

A Peach Supreme



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  posted on 1/19/2016 at 05:55 AM
quote:
As for the one thing that Allman's playing taught him?

"He made me realize I wasn't playing loud enough," Landreth said with a laugh. "I had to go home and turn it up."



In that case, I wish he had never heard Duane!

He plays much too loud, in my opinion.




 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 1/19/2016 at 07:26 AM
quote:
While he's less well-known than Derek Trucks, he's on par with pretty much anyone in the guitar department.




I find this comment very interesting in two ways:

1. Not sure Sonny is less well known. He's about twice as old so obviously he's been in the music world longer. He's played with a lot of music greats. His stuff with John Hiatt is awesome for instance.

2. On par with pretty much anyone else? Does this mean as far as talent is concerned? If so, I would disagree with that. Two very different (and GREAT) styles. Totally subjective of course.

Great article though!

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 1/19/2016 at 07:46 AM
quote:
Gonna see Sonny in a few weeks for the first time, can't wait.


I doubt you will be disappointed. He is amazing live. Not sure what his band is these days but the guys he has had over the years on bass & drums are awesome. First time I saw him was in a club about 12 or 13 years ago in a small club in Michigan. He had just put out "The Road We're On" which is a great album. They were of course promoting it and there was a poster in the window of the club with the album cover on it. I took it down after the show and the three guys all came out and signed autographs and shook hands. Got the three of them to sign it. All great guys. Bass player was particularly nice. I think all three of them were in one or more of the John Hiatt incarnations, The Goners maybe.

Anyway, enjoy. He is a master.

 

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Ultimate Peach



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  posted on 1/19/2016 at 07:59 AM
Sonny is a great player, but I like him far more in the context of someone else's band (John Hiatt for example) than I do as the frontman for his own work.

I have listened to pretty much all of his solo albums and the songs are missing something. The playing is great, but songs are missing something.

I feel the same about Robben Ford. Great player, but would much rather hear him play in someone elses band than his own.

That said, I have seen Robben Ford live and it was great so I'm sure live Sonny would be great as well. I just think both are missing something on their albums.


 
 


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