Sonny Landreth has been on tour promoting his latest album "From the Reach" and I managed to catch one of his two bay area gigs down at Moe's Alley in Santa Cruz. Moe's remains one of the best clubs in the area and it's a surprisingly intimate club for as legendary a player as Sonny Landreth. I went early to make sure I could get a good spot for photos. I managed to squeeze in about 5 feet from the stage over on the left, near where Sonny was set up. I've never seen Moe's this crowded before; it was packed wall-to-wall.
Landreth's most famous song is his 1985 homage to New Orleans "Congo Square" from the album "South of I-10" but he remains somewhat of an unknown outside the realm of slide guitar fans. But when you see him play live, it's clear why he's considered one of the greatest living guitar players. No less than Eric Claption has said Landreth is "probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced."
I've posted some photos and video from the show which was awesome. Landreth played several cuts from his latest CD including "The Milky Way Home", "Storm of Worry," as well as some of his classic songs "South of I-10," "USS Zydecoldsmobile," "Native Stepson," "All About You" and "Pedal to Metal." In fact "Pedal to Metal" is an apt description of the show, which maintained high intensity for more than 90 minutes. My only disappointment was that they never played "Congo Square." Still, it was a great show and the opening act Mighty Mike Schermer was decent also. I'll post a separate write-up of that later on.
Listening to a Sonny Landreth CD is one thing, but seeing it live is a completely different experience. There's a richness and layering of sounds coming from the band that is all the more impressive considering it's a trio. What's most amazing is to see how much more sound Landreth is getting out of the guitar than any other player I've witnessed. He's creating all kinds of crazy chords, voicings and bending with his left hand while using the slide and simultaneously his right hand is flying all over the place strumming, plucking and feathering the strings in ways I've never seen anyone play before. You can see his techniques especially in the videos of "Port of Call" and "The Milky Way Home" below.
Landreth will be touring through Texas and then out to the East Coast and finishing in October with more California dates and a headliner at the MGM Grand in Vegas.