An Elemental Journey with Sonny Landreth

Sonny Landreth at Hugh’s Room in Toronto, July 6, 2012
Sonny Landreth played Hugh’s Room on Friday night in support of his new album Elemental Journey and over the course of two excellent sets of music, take us on an elemental journey is exactly what he did. Elemental Journey is a diverse instrumental album with elements of rock, blues, jazz and reggae. Backing Landreth is his longtime bassist Dave Ranson and drummer Brian Brignac and the three together were an extraordinarily cohesive unit.The first set began with a rocker Z Rider which set the tempo for an energetic performance and was followed by the bluesy Native Stepson. Wonderide was the first of three selections from Elemental Journey, they also played Forgotten Story in the first set and Brave New Girl in the second. Highlight of the first set was The Milky Way Home, a rocking blues song from 2008’s From The Reach album which clsoed the first set. Highlight of the second set was a rousing version of the Skip James classic Cherry Ball Blues.

Landreth is a virtuoso slide guitarist and when performing live employs three Stratocasters in different tunings. Landreth developed a technique to play minor chords from a major chord open tunings, combined with harmonics and a finger picking style he says he began using in the 90’s, he creates a sound identifiably Landreth.

Sonny Landreth
T-MAK World was lucky enough to have the opportunity to chat with Sonny after the show and found him to be both gracious and engaging as we asked about his guitar style and influences. Sonny first picked up a guitar at the age of 13 and began using a slide a year later. Originally a trumpet player in school, Sonny has a jazz and classical background. He later became a fan of Delta blues. Asked about his influences, Sonny mentioned Scotty Moore, Elvis’s guitarist, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Ornette Coleman and Chet Atkins.Landreth was in Japan back in May playing shows with Johnny Winter at the recently opened Zepp DiverCity, a theatre in a newly opened large shopping mall. The next night they played the Japan Blues and Soul Carnival at the Hibiya Open-Air Concert Hall. On top of loving playing in Japan, Landreth loves playing in venues of all sizes, and has played in everything from small clubs to football stadiums and especially loves festivals where the lack of a sound check and just a line check gives a very unique raw sound.

L to RL Sonny Landreth, Brian Brignac, Dave Ranson
It was our first visit to Hugh’s Room and we loved this venue and so did Sonny as he had positve comments about it. It features a multi-level bowl layout that enables great visibility from the tables and the sound was extremely crystal clear to the point that if you closed your eyes and just listen, one would think you were in a great concert hall. Kudos to Sonny, his band and his audio team who made this whole evening an intoxicating elixer for the ears.Hugh’s Room is an upscale restaurant on Dundas West at Bloor that would be worth visiting even if no one was playing. But there was no mistaking that the capacity crowd was there to see the master slide guitarist from Louisiana. The seating area (exceeding 200 in the tables) was completely sold out and it was standing room only in the adjoining bar. Speaking of seating, Landreth quipped that he appreciated that the seated audience didn’t need to be restrained by chicken wire unlike some places in the South that he’s played. Images of Jeff Healey playing the blues behind chicken wire in the Swayze movie Road House come to mind.

Sonny Landreth at Hugh’s Room, July 6, 2012
Elemental Journey features guest musicians Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson and Landreth has played with other greats such as Robben Ford, Eric Clapton and Mark Knopfler. Since a few tracks on Elemental Journey, including the title track, have a free flowing jazzy feel not dissimilar to Jeff Beck’s landmark 70’s albums Blow by Blow and Wired, it was no surprise when asked who, if anyone, would he like to work with that he hasn’t yet, Sonny quickly answered Beck. That’s a collaboration we’d wish for too.The new album and the concert is an exploration of Sonny’s roots and influences and he did not disappoint. We get a peek into the soul of this very expressive and versed guitar virtuoso. We hope Landreth makes Toronto a regular tour stop in the future.

Review by Steve Mallinson and Michael Litt, Photos by Steve Mallinson
This entry was posted in Concert Review, Music and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

  • Follow T-Mak World

  • Latest Tweets

  • Featured Video

  • Latest Stories

  • label

  • Archive

  • Copyright 2016 T-Mak World. All rights reserved.