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Strength in numbers
Sonny and the band have played a number of memorable gigs lately including a late-January double bill with The Jerry Douglas Band to benefit the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Memorial Endowed Fund for Traditional Music. That show on the UL Lafayette campus reunited the two slide players onstage with special guests including legendary Cajun singer-songwriter D.L. Menard.
“Jerry’s a great friend and one of the most amazing musicians ever,” Sonny says. “Man, does he ever inspire me! Our gig at Angelle Hall was really special because he and Tommy were close too.”
That benefit came on the heels of Medicine Show 10, the annual fundraiser for the Comeaux Fund, which again featured Sonny with The Traiteurs. Special guests at that show included members of Sonny’s Krewe, who presented the fund with a check for $10,000 for the second year in a row.
“The krewe is awesome,” Sonny adds, “and they’re super supportive year round. Last year they came to more than 40 shows across the country. I am most grateful that they’ve joined the cause and proud of them for all they’ve accomplished.”
Thanks to the support of Sonny’s Krewe and many others around the world, the fund is now just $50,000 from its goal, the establishment of a million-dollar Memorial Endowed Chair in Traditional Music. To pick up a T-shirt to help out the cause, visit with the Krewe at a show or online.
Sonny also recently shared the stage with steel guitar ace Cindy Cashdollar. “I love working with Cindy because she’s one of the greatest and can turn a last-minute setlist into magic onstage,” Sonny says. The duo will be featured July 9 in Austin as part of the National Guitar Workshop.
“We’ll play a mix of my tunes, hers and old blues tunes. Some of the material has come from the Skip James tribute we did in Manhattan,” he notes. “When we team up, I think people can get a much better sense of the difference between bottleneck, lap slide and steel guitar. Those individual voices can complement each other, and I think we’ve honed in on that.”
You heard it here first: A new Sonny Landreth album is in the works! This as-yet-untitled project is slated to include a number of special guests and maybe a few more instrumentals than usual to accommodate some of the invited players. Stay tuned for more as things develop.
Congrats to Irma Thomas for her Grammy win for “After the Rain,” which featured Sonny, songs by David Egan and was recorded at Dockside Studios. Sonny’s guitar work has also been heard on the radio a lot in recent months on a track from Joan Osborne’s “Pretty Little Stranger” album.
“Joan’s a terrific singer,” he says. “The last show we did together was a couple of years ago at The Pier in San Diego. After I played on ‘Dead Roses,’ she sent me a thank you card. After all these years of sessions, nobody has ever done that. I was really touched.”
In other news, Sonny recently picked up another “Best of the Beat” award when he was again named Best Guitarist by the readers of OffBeat magazine. And if you tuned into the Sugar Bowl, you might have heard and seen a bit of Sonny’s version of Randy Newman’s “Louisiana 1927” on your TV.
On the road
Fox Sports taped their Sonny feature during a busy weekend in the Crescent City. Jimmy Buffett was in town to sing the national anthem before the Saints’ playoff game, and along the way he sat in with Sonny and the band at the legendary Mid-City Lanes Rock’n’Bowl for a set including “The U.S.S. Zydecoldsmobile” and “Jambalaya.”
Sonny was a featured guest with Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band for a bunch of dates last year, often joining the group onstage with fellow special guest Billy Payne of Little Feat for tunes including “Dixie Chicken.”
And there’s lots more on the horizon.
Sonny and the band will headline the Blues Tent at The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival on Saturday, April 28, the same day he’ll join the one and only Bobby Charles on stage at the venerable music fest. Later that same evening the band’ll be joined by Steve Conn for their gig at Grant Street Dancehall with Roddie Romero & The Hub City All-Stars opening up. The next day Sonny will return the favor and join Conn’s band to close Festival International de Louisiane’s Scène Lafayette. All those gigs will be bookended by Friday and Sunday New Orleans shows at The Parish at House of Blues and Rock’n’Bowl, respectively. And a number of second weekend of Jazz Fest gigs are also in the offing.
Speaking of special events, on Saturday, July 28, Sonny and the band will be part of another stellar lineup for Eric Clapton’s second Crossroads Guitar Festival, which is slated for Chicago this go-’round.
How to play a signature Stratocaster
And get ready for this: The Sonny Landreth Signature Model Fender Stratocaster is coming! The company’s first guitar specifically for slide playing is scheduled for production this year, and Sonny is working closely with Fender on the design.
To get your hands ready for that instrument, you might want to check out the series of instructional slide guitar columns that Sonny and Jude Gold have put together for Guitar Player magazine. They began with the January issue and will work from the beginner’s perspective up to tips for intermediate bottleneckers. Sonny’s also featured in the February issue’s cover story, “40 Timeless Tips from 40 Years of Guitar Player Lessons.”