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"It was a great run, and we covered a lot of territory," Sonny says, looking back on the last couple of months of trio dates with bassist Dave Ranson and drummer Mike Burch. "My heartfelt thanks to all. We made a lot of new friends and it was really fun to get feedback from everyone who checked out the web site and signed in. Since many of the folks who came to the gigs are responding so quickly via e-mail, I feel an even stronger bond with the audiences."
If you were there, you might've seen Sonny sit in with Marcia Ball at Fitzgerald's and/or Bill Payne join Sonny's band for "Congo Square" at Wolf Trap with Sonny returning the favor, joining Little Feat onstage for a few tunes including "Dixie Chicken" and "Let It Roll." In Richmond, Mel Melton of The Wicked Mojos joined the band for a partial Bayou Rhythm reunion.
At one point in the tour, the intrepid three found themselves in three hotel rooms in 12 hours.
"The crowds were inspirational everywhere," Sonny notes. "But the Canadian gigs were extra special, because we hadn't played up there in so long. And it was really touching to have so many people come out for all four sets in Montreal. Something definitely clicked there."
Recent months also marked Sonny's debut at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival, where he performed with John Hiatt and The Goners (lots more on them in a minute). Another live highlight was Sonny's gig with Shelby Lynne at the Radio and Records convention in Los Angeles, which was followed by appearances by Bill Clinton and Stevie Nicks (he spoke, she sang, not together). As an added bonus, Sonny and guitar great Mike Landau were separated from the band's gear and treated to a two-hour Secret Service lockdown backstage while the former president addressed the crowd.
On the studio front, Sonny played on Shana Morrison's new album produced by Steve Buckingham in Nashville. Closer to home, Sonny joined Patty Griffin, Balfa Toujours and producer Ann Savoy at Dockside Studios in Maurice, La. for work on a forthcoming all-star Cajun disc for Vanguard. Sonny and his band are also scheduled to join Jimmy Buffett for sessions in Long Island in the near future.
And last but certainly not least, "The Tiki Bar is Open," the long-awaited John Hiatt-reunion-with-The-Goners album is slated for a Tuesday, Sept. 11 release on Vanguard. The record takes its name from the last track cut for the project.
"I think the songs are terrific and it's like a homecoming to work with John and Dave and Kenneth (Blevins) and to get that old magic going again," Sonny says. "John is the consummate songwriter and I think there's a unique edge, something quite wonderful, that comes through with the Goners."
We've had 30 or so requests for Sonny to play everywhere from Sweden to Las Vegas. Rest assured that more than a dozen dates are already in the works for 2002. This fall, however, your best chance to see Sonny will be on the road with John Hiatt and The Goners in support of "The Tiki Bar is Open."
The majority of those dates will be part of the B.B. King Blues Festival Tour 2001, which kicks off Saturday, Aug. 4 in Portland, Ore. and runs through at least the Sacramento, Calif. gig on Saturday, Oct. 14. The show features B.B.. King, Buddy Guy, John Hiatt and The Goners, and The Tommy Castro Band.
"I'm really into going out and supporting John's new album, which is something we've been wanting to do for ten years," Sonny says. "But I'm not gonna disappear, and I'm already booking festival and club dates for next year with my band." The seed for the B.B. King dates, he adds, may have been planted when he and Hiatt joined the blues legend onstage New Year's Eve at Union Station in Chicago. The ensemble rang in the new with "Auld Lang Syne" and classics such as "Caldonia" for about half an hour, Sonny says, "which was of course a real highlight for me, since I've been waiting all these years to get to play with him."
The Hiatt tour already includes 22 shows in August alone. To get the latest on the simultaneous tours, we recommend searching pollstar.com for John Hiatt as well as B.B. King.
A new featured mp3
The promo-only live version of "Back to Bayou Teche" is now ready for downloading in the Lagniappe section. Check it out. Tracked November 24, 1992 at Amsterdam's Club Paradiso, this rarity features Goners Dave Ranson on bass and Kenneth Blevins on drums plus longtime Sonny Landreth accomplice Steve Conn on accordion and background vocals. The song was originally issued on the four-song Zoo/Praxis "South of I-10" promo disc titled "Exit 103A." The EP CD features album versions of "Shooting for the Moon," "South of I-10," and "Congo Square," and closes out with this cool 6:43 bonus cut.
The lagniappe photo album now features three great shots from Sonny's Friday, March 16 gig with Jerry Douglas and Friends in Angelle Hall on the UL Lafayette campus. Lensman Travis Gauthier was on hand to document the historic, sold-out benefit for the Dr. Tommy Comeaux Memorial Endowed Fund for Traditional Music.
Tips on tunings
SlideLines subscribers will be the first to know when we add playing tips and expanded gear info to the web site. To get the ball rolling, Sonny has answered a few burning questions. He plays D'Addario EJ22 XL strings, .013-.56, in the following tunings: Am ("Z. Rider"), A ("This River," "Levee Town," "Soul Salvation"), G ("Blues Attack," "Back to Bayou Teche"), E ("South of I-10," "Native Stepson"), Dm ("Broken Hearted Road" [the album version, BTW, is in E-flat minor]), C ("Frisco Bay" [which made a rare appearance in the set list in the Golden Gate City]), and Asus ("Outward Bound"). More details will be forthcoming.
Some subscribers have asked for a live album. Sonny reports that's a concept he's "still thinking about. Maybe for this upcoming blues album," he says, "we'll record the tracks live, off the cuff." Other folks were looking for a pick and signed copies of "Levee Town." Well, fill out that survey if you haven't already, and we'll see what we can offer on SonnyLandreth.com in the near future.
Spread the word
SonnyLandreth.com launched on Memorial Day, and we've had quite a bit of interest and activity during our first weeks on the web. Now that things are starting to click (ouch!), we'd like you to help us spread the word about the site and SlideLines. Feel free to forward this edition of SlideLines to all your friends, and ask them to please stop by the site and subscribe to this e-newsletter.
See you down the road!