There are guitar slingers, guitar masters, guitar heroes and guitar stranglers, and then there are the rare guitar icons, players who possess a distinctive style that makes them immediately recognizable after just a few notes.
Sonny Landreth is surely among that hallowed group.
Whether as a session guitarist (he’s played on albums by Gov’t Mule, Mark Knopfler, John Hiatt, Jimmy Buffett, John Mayall, Beausoleil and many more), band member (he was one of Hiatt’s Goners back in the ’80s and has recorded and toured extensively with Buffett) or artist in his own right (he’s released a dozen studio and live albums in his nearly 40 year career), Landreth’s swampy yet razor sharp slide guitar riffs are as singularly identifiable as a fingerprint and as beautifully impressionistic as a Monet watercolor.
A Mississippi native who’s spent most of his life in Louisiana, Landreth began his extraordinary career at 22, having already devised his signature method of combining slide, chord fragments and percussive tapping, influenced by Chet Atkins, Mississippi John Hurt and Duane Allman.
He was a potent gun-for-hire before releasing his debut solo album, 1981’s Blues Attack, followed by 1985’s Down in Louisiana, but it was 1995’s Outward Bound that established Landreth as a phenomenal artist and a master of what has been called “Slydeco.”
Landreth’s latest album, the soulfully evocative Elemental Journey, is the guitarist’s first all instrumental release, and its excellence (and muted reception) is proof of Eric Clapton’s famous claim: “Sonny Landreth is probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also is probably one of the most advanced.”
SONNY LANDRETH performs Thursday, June 14 with Monkeytown at 20th Century Theater. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.