NASHVILLE, TN. (COMMOTION PR/ Sugar Hill Records) - When it comes to Sonny
Landreth, even Eric Clapton
is a fan. "He's probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced," he says. Within the last year, Landreth performed at Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in Dallas, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
He recently performed with Jimmy Buffett
at Fenway Park and appears on Buffett's first number one album, License to Chill. Landreth also received a long overdue nod with a Grammy Award nomination for Best Contemporary Blues Recording for his seventh album, The Road We're On, released on Sugar Hill Records.
Grant Street, Landreth's latest effort for Sugar Hill, finds the slide guitar master on his first live recording and back at his old haunt in Lafayette, Louisiana. "Making this album was a homecoming," Landreth says of the 2003 recording. When Grant Street Dancehall opened its doors on the Fourth of July in 1980, Landreth performed with both bands that evening - Red Beans & Rice Revue and the king of zydeco, Clifton Chenier.
It was the beginning of a long history with the converted fruit warehouse. "For the first time, I got the opportunity to open shows or hang out with a lot of my heroes, like Ray Charles, B.B. King, Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, Son Seals, and John Hammond Jr. Those were powerful shows and great times. I wanted to tap into that for this live album."
With Grant Street, Landreth returns to that well of inspiration and captures Lafayette's unique vibe while showcasing his trio with Dave Ranson on bass and Kenneth Blevins on drums. Ranson and Landreth met in junior high and have been working together since Landreth's 1981 record, Blues Attack. Blevins joined the two in 1987, forming The Goners, John Hiatt's backing band for the Bring The Family, Slow Turning. Hiatt's 2003 Beneath This Gruff Exterior is his first album to be billed as John Hiatt & The Goners.
Since the early 90s, Landreth has had a yearly gig at Grant Street in April for Festival International in Lafayette. "This album is more about catching the kind of spontaneity that only happens in the heat of the moment." And he couldn't have picked a hotter place to record Grant Street. Even in April, with air-conditioning and a dozen industrial fans, the club has a reputation for a hot atmosphere, even hotter music, and cold beer.
"Although I love having special guests sit in with us, this time I decided to document our band as it is every night on the road," Landreth says. "Also, the trio format gives me the space to focus on the slide guitar thing." Landreth's unique approach of combining the slide with fretted notes is legendary. More than just laying down licks, his fingerpicking technique creates a complex, multi-layered sound onstage.
Grant Street was recorded over the course of two nights and captures the energy of the crowd, the clinking of beer bottles, and even the pounding of barstools on the cypress dance floor to lure Landreth and company back onstage for an encore. "It had to be raw and real with no overdubs. I didn't want to rerecord our parts in the studio afterwards. Everything that's on there happened on those two nights."
Landreth enlisted the help of his longtime collaborators R.S. Field and Grammy Award-winning engineer Tony Daigle to produce Grant Street. The album features over an hour of Landreth's original music dating back to Blues Attack, with three previously unreleased titles, and a 10-minute version of his Louisiana anthem, "Congo Square." For more than 30 years, Landreth has penned his own poignant songs, drawn from his south Louisiana roots and the area's rich storytelling tradition.
"This one is for the fans, "Landreth says. "I deeply appreciate them. If it wasn't for their support, I wouldn't be able to take the band out on the road."
And for those who haven't heeded Clapton's testimony to Landreth's talent and soul, Grant Street is sure to convert them into true believers.
"Landreth's slide-guitar playing is beyond brilliant – it's singular. There is no player alive who can match the finesse and fire he brings to the slide." - BILLBOARD
"No one blends Cajun grooves and Delta slide like Sonny Landreth. Whether digging into a bouncy two-beat rhythm or laying down a loping rub shuffle, he makes his Strat wheeze and sing." - GUITAR PLAYER
"Album after album, Landreth continues to boggle minds and drop jaws with his supremely agile, incredibly tasteful slide-guitar skills." - SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS
"… Landreth's unique fretting-behind-the-slide technique conjures up the otherworldly sound that's his trademark – and it sounds fresher than ever on The Road We're On." - GAMBIT WEEKLY
"Lafayette native Sonny Landreth is such a master of his instrument – arguably the most exciting slide guitarist alive, at least in terms of sheer innovation – that it's easy to forget what a master assimilator he is, too, effortlessly combining blues, zydeco, Cajun, rock and R&B into a distinctive style that's nearly impossible to describe but easy to understand." - OFFBEAT
"...stellar songwriter and exceptionally soulful slide guitarist and singer." - COLUMBUS DISPATCH
"Sonny Landreth is probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced." - ERIC CLAPTON
"To watch Landreth live is to see someone who has entirely mastered his instrument." - WASHINGTON POST
"Sonny Landreth is a songwriting craftsman who gives us clever, emotionally truthful little bits of hook-filled roots rock. He's also one of America's most talented guitarists. One admission charge, two talents." - NO DEPRESSION
"Landreth is truly great…He has a unique slant on slide-guitar playing, in that he has come up with some different tunings and ways of playing that give him his own voice." - WARREN HAYNES