To subscribe to our SlideLines enewsletter, please SIGN UP.
Touring with B.B. and The Goners
The multi-artist B.B. King tour has come to an end, and new dates with John Hiatt and The Goners - and a special holiday show in Lafayette with The Traiteurs – will close out the year for Sonny Landreth.
Sonny, Hiatt and The Goners got to see a great bit of the country during the last three months on the road with B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Tommy Castro . "I was impressed by the diversity of the crowds and how much they got into the sets of all four bands," Sonny says. "It was a great cross-section of music and musicians, and I was honored to be part of the tour."
Hiatt sat in with Guy for the bluesman's take on Hiatt’s tune "Feels Like Rain" on the last night of the tour, which ended with a large-scale jam session featuring Guy, Hiatt, Sonny and Castro on stage with B.B. and his band.
From there it was on to more dates with Hiatt and The Goners in support of "The Tiki Bar is Open," though a few California dates and the European tour had to be postponed while Hiatt recovered from an emergency appendectomy. The bandleader has recovered well, and the group is back out again for a couple of months. Please check Pollstar for the latest confirmed tour dates.
South Louisiana fans will be in for a treat when Sonny joins old friends The Traiteurs for a Cajun jam session at Medicine Show 5, the annual Dr. Tommy Comeaux Memorial Endowed Fund for Traditional Music benefit dance Saturday, Dec. 22 at Grant Street Dancehall in Lafayette. Nathan Williams & The Zydeco Cha Chas and The Hardheads are among other confirmed acts, and the show will be broadcast live worldwide via www. krvs.org . For tickets or more info, call the Acadiana Arts Council at (337) 233-7060.
The new year holds the promise of several interesting touring scenarios for Sonny and his trio. "We're looking forward to starting back out on the spring festival circuit and possible dates in Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii and Japan," he says, adding that plans to record the long-awaited blues album are also in the works.
"Levee Town" for sale
That's right. If you don't yet have your very own copy, you can now pick one up directly from SonnyLandreth.com. It's our first foray into online merchandising; if things go well, who knows what we might sell next? Domestic orders received by Saturday, Dec. 15 should arrive in time for Christmas.
A new featured mp3
"You Must Keep On" is the latest rarity available for download in the Lagniappe section of SonnyLandreth.com. The tune dates back to '74 or '75 and was a staple of gigs at the Red Dog Saloon and Mother's Mantle in Lafayette, Sonny reports. Our version is taken from "The Tulsa Sampler" LP and comes to us courtesy of Tom Powell.
It seems Sonny and Dave headed up to Oklahoma to cut some tracks with some of Eric Clapton's bandmates (two band selections were featured alongside this cut), and this was the sole solo track (with overdubbing). "This was one of those 24-hour sessions that you learn not to do," Sonny says with a laugh. "It really burns you out. I remember the door opening and the sun blasting in, with Dave coming back from a decent night’s sleep at the hotel. I must've looked awful, 'cause he grabbed the keys to my car and drove us all the way back to Louisiana." Still, Sonny says, he’s always been happy with the way this all-acoustic track turned out. "I was inspired by my father. It reminds me of how he used to sing and rock me to sleep when I was a little kid." Check it out.
Thanks to Werner and Tone Faugstad for the great shot of Sonny, Dave (in a tie!) and Michael Organ in Norway in ’96. Merci, too, to Tabitha Haggerty for the shots of Hiatt and The Goners in action in Atlanta in August (!), and the May photo of Sonny in New Orleans’ Ultrasonic Studios playing acoustic guitar on the late Boozoo Chavis’ final album. That disc is out now, and those photos are posted (chronologically) in the Lagniappe section’s Photo Album.
Sonny's backline blueprint, pt. 2
Last time we checked out Sonny's stripped down "air rig." This go 'round, we'll take a look at the rig he carried with Hiatt and The Goners on the B.B. King tour. We'll take it step by step.
(The "Tips on tunings" section details the Hiatt songs and tunings associated with each axe.)
Two Fender American Standard Stratocasters, a 1988 black one with a 2-Tek bridge, which increases sustain and clarity, and a 1989 sunburst with the Trilogy tuning bridge, which allows Sonny to move each string to any of three positions with the flip of a lever.
A black 1970 Custom Les Paul for flatpicking (with .10-.42 strings).
A red R&B custom built for Sonny by Mark Riley that features a neck-through-chambered-body design and a shape patterned after the National electric "map of the U.S." models. "It's one of the best sounding guitars I had on the tour. It's got a big sound with a lot of tone, and it's very dynamic," Sonny explains.
And then there's the sometimes primary, now all-purpose backup and radio gigs guitar, Sonny's Les Paul with the TransPerformance tuning system by Neil Skinn.
From the guitar, the signal first sees a Boss CH-1 Super Chorus, then a Demeter Tremulator, followed by an Ibanez Echo Machine Digital Delay which leads to an A-B switch for changing guitars without unplugging.
A 100-watt Dumble Overdrive using the half-power setting "basically became the mainstay of the tour," Sonny reports. Also onstage were Sonny's Matchless Chieftain, a 1970 Marshall 50-watt head refurbished by Holger Notzel of Komet Amplification Products in Baton Rouge, La., and Sonny's tried-and-true 75-watt Demeter TGA-3. All of the above ran through Sonny's Matchless 2X12 speaker cabinet loaded with Vintage 30s to Mark Sampson's specs.
Tips on tunings
On the road with Hiatt and The Goners, Sonny's using the following tunings on the following songs and guitars. "Levee Town" tunings are posted in the Lagniappe section. His slide string gauges, BTW, are .13-.56. Look for playing tips in future editions of SlideLines.
Standard tuning (E-A-D-G-B-E): "All The Lilacs in Ohio," "Feels Like Rain," "I Know A Place," "Is Anybody There?," "My Old Friend," "Thing Called Love." 1970 Custom Les Paul.
Low C (C-G-C-E-G-C): "Slow Turning," "Something Broken." Black 2-Tek Strat.
D (D-A-D-F#-A-D): "Everybody Went Low." Black 2-Tek Strat.
E (E-B-E-G#-B-E): "Drive South," "Memphis In The Meantime," "Tennessee Plates." Sunburst Trilogy Strat.
F#m (C#-F#-C#-F#-A-C#): "The Tiki Bar is Open" (Hiatt is in standard tuning with a capo on the second fret playing an Em chord). Black 2-Tek Strat.
G (D-G-D-G-B-D): "Lincoln Town." Red R&B.
A (E-A-E-A-C#-E): "Riding with the King" (actually played in the key of B, with capo at second fret). Black 2-Tek Strat.
Spread the word
Feel free to share this info with anyone and everyone. Thanks for your support of Sonny, SlideLines and SonnyLandreth.com.
See you down the road.