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February 01, 2009

Sonny Landreth King Of Slide Guitar

I've been catching up on Sonny Landreth for a bit now, so I thought I'd share my thoughts on his playing. Sonny Landreth is not that well known (yet) to the general public, but many guitar players interested in blues and roots music are well aware of fantastic playing.

Landreth is from southwest Lousiana and has worked steady as a session player as well as touring with well known names. Some of the artist he has worked with would be Eric Claptoon, John Hiatt, Jon Mayall, Gov't Mule, Bonnie Raitt, Mark Knopfler, Jimmy Buffet.

What I think is so interesting and cool about Sonny is his phenomenal technique when using a slide. He often frets notes behind the slide to create more "advanced" chords and melodies. Since he has the slide on the pinky, he can use the other 3 fingers for fretting if he wants to. His right hand technique is also very interesting. He does slapping and picking in unusual ways, and the result is a very interesting sound and way of playing. His technique is nothing but mind-blowing.

I also love that he plays Stratocasters. He uses an old Fender strat and for amps, I think he uses Dumbles and Demeter amps. For effects, he uses delay a lot and he also has some chorus/leslie effect here and there.

Check out Sonny Landreth's website for more information about his gear and setups.

Now, I'm not a fan of guitar players who always try to show off, and even though Sonny has ability to stun with his technique, he plays music first and foremost, and he uses his technique in "mature" and musical ways, if that makes sense. I especially like players who think musically first, and tecnically second. Maybe that's why I like Sonny so much. He's got such control over his sound and you can instantly tell when he is playing. Such is his style and technique, that he sounds like no one else.

His music is very blues oriented, and you can also clearly hear the Cajun and Zydeco influence on his material. I think Texas blues and Texas rock is in him quite a bit too. He writes beautiful ballads too, where his slide work really shines.

The albums I have that I like the most are Grant Street and The Road We're On. The newest album is good too, but it features guest guitar players and as a result, the album seems a bit fragmented to me. Don't get me wrong, it's great fun to listen to, but if I had to pick one album to get, I would say Grant Street. It features a three piece band completely cooking. Sonny's vocals are good too, and he's got some very nice grooves happening with his band.

You should also check out his work with John Hiatt and the Goners. That my friend, is some fantastic music and great guitar work. I think John Hiatt is one of the best song writers who ever lived, so with Sonny playing, the result is some fantastic music.

I found some videos on youtube that would give you an idea of the greatness of Sonny. Have a listen if you haven't heard these before and let me know what you think. When I think of Kings of modern slide playing, there are only 2 names to come to my mind. Derek Trucks (I'll cover him some other time) and Sonny Landreth.

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By Robert Renman - www.dolphinstreet.com

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Posted by Robert Renman on February 01, 2009

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