It happens on a fairly regular basis: You’re listening to WNKU, the area’s one consistently excellent radio station, and you hear a slide guitar cut through the air like a freshly tempered scalpel through warm butter. And that sinewy guitar dances pirouettes around your eager ears and you become transfixed with the velvet voodoo sound that is emanating from your speakers. If you’re at home, you sit down. If you’re driving, you should pull over before you’re completely mesmerized by the swampy beauty that is flooding your frontal lobe, a kind of music that exists at the intersection of Southern gentility and hurricane ferocity. And as that simultaneously soothing and stinging sound washes over you, you say out loud to no one in particular, “God, I love Sonny Landreth.”
Landreth has been plying his trade as “the king of Slydeco” for the better part of three decades, and his singular guitar sound has graced recordings and performances by Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Jimmy Buffett, Little Feat, John Mayall, Gov’t Mule, Buddy Guy and a good many others, including a certain British string strangler (who has been variously identified as Slowhand and God), who once referred to Landreth as “the most underestimated musician on the planet and also probably one of the most advanced.” Praise doesn’t get much higher than that.
Steered by his Louisiana upbringing and altered by his discovery of Robert Johnson, Sonny Landreth has released close to a dozen albums of his own over the past quarter century, including last year’s astonishing From the Reach, featuring guests like the aforementioned Eric Claption, Mark Knopfler, Eric Johnson, Vince Gill and Robben Ford. Witnessing Sonny Landreth live is like going to church, so pull up a pew and get ready to testify; the Reverend Landreth has some slide guitar hymns to save your sinning ass.
(Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.)