Sunday night’s appearance by slide guitar phenom, Sonny Landreth, was a special treat for fans of his blues stylings. He played several wonderful selections from his most recent release, Bound By The Blues. This album of blues covers is Sonny’s tip of the hat to the genre that got him interested in music and, in particular, slide guitar. Honorary on-stage mentions at the lively show included Robert Johnson, Skip James, Elmore James and Son House. Most notably acknowledged was the recently deceased Johnny Winter, for whom Landreth composed the track Firebird Blues. The songs is featured on Bound By The Blues and was performed for Vancouver fans at this show. Sonny and Johnny had a long history of sharing performance venues and recording studios and were considered by one another to be dear friends. Firebird Blues is in direct reference to Winters’ long-standing use of a Gibson Firebird as his preferred instrument.
Fans of Sonny Landreth’s more progressive stylings were not to be disappointed on this night either. Favorite inclusions were the amazing Uberesso and the equally impressive Pedal to Metal. This material is where Landreth and his band really elevate their skill sets to an elite level. Drummer Brian Brignac excels at complementing Sonny in a most unusual but befitting way from behind the kit. He incorporates rolling, syncopated rhythms and all-out double bass drum endings while remaining in context with the flavor of the song at hand. Bassist David Ranson may very well know Sonny better than anyone out there. Ranson has been accompanying Sonny’s six strings with his own four since the two were teenagers. While Dave Ranson does not display much in the way of flashy persona, he thumps out thunderous bottom end without fail.
Some of you may recall Sonny Landreth’s last visit to Vancouver. He played at the short-lived Electric Owl club on Main Street as part of an event celebrating all things slide guitar. The evening was hosted by local slide wiz Steve Dawson and, although the name of the bassist escapes me, drums and percussion were handled by the incomparable Pat Steward of West Coast music fame. Although that show was entertaining, it felt a little contrived in that the musicians that had gathered for the event were unfamiliar with each other’s intricacies and nuances. Nothing glaring, just a bit left of center…
However, Sunday’s performance was one to remember with Sonny Landreth supported by his own touring band.
Opening the show was local blues journeyman Wailin’ Al Walker. I had never had the pleasure of seeing Al perform and I was truly impressed with the performance of him and his band. I personally gravitate toward a grittier, Texas-style blues and these guys pegged it for me. A great choice to open the show for Sonny Landreth’s Bound By The Blues!!
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written by Gregory Nott