17 April 2008

Sonny Landreth & Campbell Brothers @ Water Street Music Hall

I've got to move,
I'm going on a party ride
I've got to groove, groove, groove,
And from this music I just can't hide.
Are you comin' with me?
Come let me take you on a party ride
And I'll teach you, teach you, teach you
I'll teach you the electric slide
Some say it's mystic
It's electric
Boogie woogie, woogie

This past Wednesday night I was rocking out to the electric slide. No I wasn't at some crazy midweek Bar Mitzvah, I hit up the Water Street Music Hall for Sonny Landreth with the Campbell Brothers in support.

The Campbells opened things up featuring not one but two slides, with Chuck Campbell on pedal steel and Darick Campbell on lap steel. Two more brothers, Carlton on drums and Phillip on guitar, a scruffy lanky tall completely out-of-place white dude on bass, and the energy and pipes of two amazing singers up front which was like having two of Sharon Jones on stage. These guys are flat out and genuinely amazing. No ifs ands or buts about it, they wail.
I mean just check this out:

They closed their set by inviting Sonny Landreth up on stage to make the slide trifecta.

Then it was Landreth's turn. What he lacked in on-stage energy from the openers, he made up with sheer dexterous insanity. The man has chops beyond chops. If you haven't had the pleasure of hearing them, I highly recommend it. He and his band play a southern Louisiana blend of blues-zydeco-country-honk with some sometimes proggish, metal even, shredding thrown into the mix. Landreth almost exclusively plays the slide guitar. Going on visuals alone, as I have no knowledge of either of their techniques, his picking method seems awfully similar to Derek Trucks' (that should probably be the other way around obviously). Whereas Derek emits a growl from his guitar, Landreth gets more of a howl from his. Cleaner and more distinct. They played a few tunes off their forthcoming album, the best of which I thought was Blue Tarp Blues, a song about the aftermath of Katrina, and which will feature Mark Knopfler on the album. I could definitely imagine Knopfler's guitar work filling into that song quite nicely, should be sweet. Landreth plays live as a power trio which held down the fort quite admirably. Unfortunately the offer was not returned to have some Campbells join them up on stage, but I wasn't complaining. Water Street was not more than half full and was quite comfortable, though they annoyingly set up seats and tables right in front of the stage which were set off by stanchions. Though that did offer a nice unimpeded view from the sides.

Another note on the crowd: I ran into what is the exact opposite of the obnoxiously drunk and/or drugged out fan. In between sets, some older woman slides over a stool from the bar, knocks it into me, says excuse me, so I moved out of her way not knowing that she was going to place the stool down right in front of me, in fact right where I had just been standing. Um, hello? So then she plops down with her oversized bag and massively oversized 80s mass of hair. What does she pull out of her bag but knitting needles! She proceeded to knit right then and there. Oy, now I've seen it all.

It's Electric! Boogie Woogie Woogie...

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