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April 2005

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Surprise

Sonny Landreth
Grant Street
Sugar Hill Records

Sonny Landreth

Down in the steaming heat and gator filled bayous of South Louisiana, deep in the heart of Cajun country flourishes a guitar slinger that sounds like no other whoís come before or ever after.

If you havenít yet heard of Sonny Landreth you must be living in a cave with Bin Laden (assuming he doesnít have satellite radio).

Landreth has been using his unique slide guitar style for sometime now playing with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and John Hiatt (his touring guitarist in the backing band, The Goners). Heís recorded quite a few solo releases as well including his latest, the live CD Grant Street (Sugar Hill).

The title refers to the club where it was recorded, Grant Street Dancehall, in Lafayette, LA, a favorite of Landrethís since his early days where he actually played on the opening night of the club in 1980 and has never stopped playing there whenever heís in town. Last April, while in town for the annual mega music event, Festival International, Landreth decided to record his usual stint at Grant Street.

Backed by the phenomenal talents of David Ranson on bass and Kenneth Blevins on drums, these three musical troubadours rock the house to the rafters and into the outer regions of space.

Landethís musical tapestry covers all genres but considering he plays it all on electric slide the blues seep in at every turn. Right from the get-go with "Native Stepson," you know youíre in for something special. Landreth has perfected a style of slide playing that fits hand in glove with whatever note happens to flow out of his Fender. At times while Landreth is beautifully flowing his slide along the strings, his picking hand will cross to the upper frets of the neck, causing sounds that no one I know of could do in a studio with every high tech recording known to man let alone perform it live. I was witness to this at the CD release party held at --- you guessed it --- Grant Street.

I heard recently that Clapton said Landreth is the best guitarist playing today. No doubt. Prime example: open your ears and mind to the instrumental "Pedal to the Metal." Amazing!

For those purists, the actual blues show up in "Blues Attack." Listen to the blues, Sonny style, as he flies around the guitar with his slide. I swear every time I listen to this tune, I become a believer over and over again.

The gospel stated here? The blues are not dead. It also becomes more apparent with each listen that the blues will never just be a 12 bar idiom stuck in itís own original form.

Landreth wrote every tune on the disc, formidably stating that this is some talented dude.

Just open your ears to Grant Street and join the church of Landreth.

--- Bruce Coen

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