Vol. 4


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In this issue:

Megan Barra receives a Grammy nomination
A look at "Congo Square" and D minor tuning
Touring news

Megan Barra receives a Grammy nomination

Congrats to art director Megan Barra, who received a Grammy nomination for Best Recording package for "Levee Town." Nominations were announced Friday, Jan. 4.

Here’s the complete list of nominees:

Category 80 - Best Recording Package

Amnesiac (Special Limited Edition)
Stanley Donwood & Tchocky, art directors (Radiohead)
[Capitol Records]

Bedlam Ballroom
Lane Wurster, art director (Squirrel Nut Zippers)
[Mammoth Records]

Levee Town
Megan Barra, art director (Sonny Landreth)
[Sugar Hill Records]

Look Into The Eyeball
Stephen Doyle, art director (David Byrne)
[Virgin Records America]

Chris Bilheimer & Michael Stipe, art directors (R.E.M.)
[Warner Bros. Records]

NARAS voting members have cast their ballots, and the winners will be announced Feb. 27.

Megan is an internationally known designer, and she has won numerous awards for her work in a variety of media. She designed SonnyLandreth.com, and her "Levee Town" package showcases the work of acclaimed photographer Jack Spencer. His book "Native Soil" (LSU Press) has received critical praise and his photography is featured in galleries throughout the country.

"I’m absolutely thrilled!" Sonny says. "Megan’s visionary design with Jack’s powerful photography captured the essence of the music I’d heard in my head and created a conceptual package of stunning beauty. I’m very, very proud of them both."

A look at "Congo Square" and D minor tuning

"Congo Square" is one of Sonny’s best-known songs, and his arrangement has evolved a bit over the years. "Congo Square" can be heard in a flatpicked, standard-tuning version on the "Down in Louisiana" CD and in an open-tuned slide rendition on the "South of I-10" CD. (Megan, by the way, designed the LP "Congo Square" first appeared on, which was called "Way Down In Louisiana" and featured a Greg Guirard photograph of the Atchafalaya Swamp on the cover - but we digress.)

The song was written in the key of D minor, and the slide (and current stage) version of "Congo Square" uses a D minor tuning (D-A-D-F-A-D, low to high). This tuning is also used for the live version of "Broken Hearted Road." Though it’s only slightly different from the more commonly used open D major (you just drop the F# down to F to make the tuning minor), D minor tuning opens up a whole new range of musical possibilities.

"Because of the slacker tension, D minor tuning gives you an elasticity to touch that you can really feel and hear in the overall sound," Sonny says. "Bluesy with a powerful low end, it has an atmospheric mojo and a spooky vibe I really like. Think Elmore James in a dark mood."

Audio clips of both versions of "Congo Square" can be found in the Discography section of www.SonnyLandreth.com. The clip for the "South of I-10" version, in fact, features Mark Knopfler’s guitar solo. For more on Sonny’s tunings and gear, please visit our Lagniappe section.

Touring news

January brought overseas dates with John Hiatt and The Goners. Mardi Gras weekend, Sonny and his trio returned to FitzGerald’s in Chicago for gigs Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8 & 9.

Look for more on Sonny’s songs - and spring and summer tour dates – in future editions of SlideLines.

See you down the road.

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