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Crossroads live on PBS and DVD
In July, Sonny and his band opened Eric Clapton’s second Crossroads Guitar Festival, where they were introduced by the host himself. “It was amazing,” Sonny says, “Every time I turned around I bumped into one of my heroes. I stayed ’til the last note because I felt like I was in the middle of making history and didn’t want to miss any of it.”
Sonny, Dave and Mike made a little history of their own, in fact, when they welcomed Clapton back to the stage for “Hell at Home,” the second of the two Sonny cuts which open the festival’s DVD release.
“Eric is the ultimate host: humble, down to earth – and like his guitar playing, straight from the heart,” Sonny adds. “It feels like we’re old friends, and I’ve kept his music close to me for many years. As a teenager learning to play, I was really influenced by him as one of the original all-time greatest guitarists/singer-songwriters who made me want to turn it on, turn it up and wail. To have him come out and play with us was one of the greatest moments onstage I’ve ever had. We’re still fired up about it.”
The DVDs also feature performances by Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy, Hubert Sumlin, Jimmie Vaughan, Steve Winwood, Los Lobos, B.B. King, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Doyle Bramhall II and many other artists.
On Wednesday, Nov. 28, PBS’ “Great Performances” series will air a special broadcast edition of the show which will feature several performances not on the DVDs, including Beck’s reading of “A Day in the Life.” Please check your local listings for details.
New album of Landreth collaborations nearly complete
Sonny’s new album is due the week of May 19, and it’ll feature guest appearances by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Vince Gill, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, Dr. John and Jimmy Buffett.
“The guest thing/duet approach has already been done to no end,” Sonny says. “My hope was to make this different by writing songs specifically for each artist. Because I’m so familiar with their styles, and they’ve all had such an impact on me, I used that connection to make these collaborations have chemistry. I didn’t want this to sound like an album of ‘sit ins,’ I want it to sound more like these friends are in the band.”
The ideas behind this project have been germinating for a while, Sonny says. “That’s one of the great things about playing so many sessions. I was able to tap back into many of the experiences I’ve had with all the guests on this project.”
Most of all, he says, “I was very touched by how everyone enthusiastically offered to sign on and worked to make it really easy for me to set it up and to put things in place to make it happen.”
Good Medicine ahead
While in the Chicago area for the Crossroads fest, Sonny had the opportunity to welcome a couple of friends and mentors to the stage at Fitzgerald’s. “I first heard Harvey Mandel playing with Canned Heat at the New Orleans Pop Festival in 1969 and he absolutely blew my mind,” Sonny remembers. “We did a Hawaiian tour together when he was playing with the Chicago Blues Reunion and got to be friends. Last summer we played together at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.”
“I was already familiar with the incredible Albert Lee from his many recordings when we worked together on one of his sessions that John Hiatt produced back in the ’80s. When I found out that he and Harvey were both going to be at the Crossroads festival I knew the time was right for something really special.”
Looking ahead, Sonny says, “We’ve only got a few dates left for the rest of the year, and of course we’re really looking forward to Medicine Show 11.” The annual benefit show has been a focal point for fundraising for The Dr. Tommy Comeaux Memorial Endowed Fund for Traditional Music, which is now just about $40,000 away from its goal of establishing a million-dollar Endowed Chair in Traditional Music at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.
For the last several years Sonny’s Krewe – and the fans who’ve bought their merchandise – have been major contributors to the cause, and representatives of the amazing group will again be on hand for the big gig at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 at Grant Street Dancehall in Lafayette, La.
“The Krewe has been working hard again all year at our shows,” Sonny says. “I’m incredibly grateful for their heartfelt generosity.”