Landreth performs on Thursday, January 17th at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall in support of his new album newest “ELEMENTAL JOURNEY”Sonny Landreth is an American blues musician from southwest Louisiana who is especially known as a slide guitar player. When he is not touring and performing, he resides in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
Landreth is best known for his slide playing, having 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 right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand. He wears a special thumb pick/ flat pick hybrid on his thumb so he can bear down on a pick while simultaneously using his finger style technique for slide.
Sonny Landreth is known for his use of Fender Stratocaster guitars and Dumble Amplifiers. He is also known to use Demeter and Fender amplifiers on occasion. Landreth uses Jim Dunlop 215 heavy glass slides and Dunlop Herco flat thumb picks. His guitars are fitted with DiMarzio and Lindy Fralin pickups, a special Suhr back plate system, and D’Addario medium nickel wound strings gauges 0.13 – 0.56.
Landreth has recorded with Jimmy Buffett, and accompanied him on his 2006, 2007 and 2010 summer tours and has performed at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2004, 2007, 2010, and is scheduled to play at the 2013 festival in New York.
Sonny Landreth’s music has always been evocative, a vibrant mixture of indigenous sounds and images informed by Delta blues and Faulkner alike. But here, by eschewing lyrics and vocals, he’s located something especially pure and unfettered. “What I’d hoped to end up creating was sonic stories without words,” he says. “And because there are no lyrics, it’s really important to connect on an emotional level. All of the titles for these songs have meaning for me — some of them are impressions from post-Katrina, Rita, the Gulf Spill, friends of mine and their experiences — so that’s part of it too. Still, I want listeners to feel something that resonates with them personally. I’ve always tried to make music that engages you on a deeper level that way.”
Sonny Landreth’s 11th album, bearing the fittingly evocative title Elemental Journey, is something very different from the Louisiana slide wizard. Released on his own Landfall label on May 22, 2012, the new CD is Landreth’s first all-instrumental effort and his most adventurous work to date.
“From day one on the guitar, many genres of music have had an impact on me” says Landreth. “For these recordings, I drew from some of those influences that I hadn’t gone to on previous albums with my vocals. Trading off the lyrics this time, I focused solely on the instrumental side and all this music poured out. Then I asked some extraordinary musicians to help me layer the tracks in hopes of inspiring a lot of imagery for the listeners.”
Like its predecessor, From the Reach (2008), Elemental Journey features guest stars, in this case handpicked by Landreth for what each could bring to a particular aural canvas. Joe Satriani delivers an astonishing, ferocious solo on the audacious opener “Gaia Tribe,” the returning virtuoso Eric Johnson casts his seductive spell on the dusky dreamscape “Passionola” and steel drum master Robert Greenidge brings his magical overtones to the balmy, swaying “Forgotten Story.”
Drummers Brian Brignac, Doug Belote and Mike Burch, each of whom Landreth has worked with in the past, lend their particular feels to various tracks, working with Sonny’s longtime band members, bass player Dave Ranson and keyboardist Steve Conn produced.
“One of the things I’ve always loved about a good instrumental song is that it can be more impressionistic and abstract,” Landreth notes. “Though melody is always important, it’s even more significant with an instrumental. So what I wanted to achieve was something more thematic with lots of melodies and with a chordal chemistry that was harmonically rich. That’s when I got the idea to treat the arrangements with more layering and to have the melodies interweave like conversations. I also wanted it to be more diverse, to not adhere to any categories. I wanted to leave it wide open to possibility.”
Prepare to be engaged . . . and transported.