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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Eric Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eric Johnson. Show all posts

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Landfall Records:Elemental Journey - Sonny Landreth - New Release Review


I have been listening to the newest recording by Sonny Landreth, Elemental Journey to be released on May 22. This is a really different recording for Sonny Landreth in that not only is the music somewhat unstructured (more orchestrated) or hyper structured dependent upon your perception and also that it has no vocals. What I mean regarding the structure is that most of the music that I review has a very basic structure and much of it a formula. A very simple formula. Any experienced listener can listen to the average song, say here's the singing, this is where the guitar solo will be...there will be singing after that and this is the end. This recording is much more complex than that and really quite heady. Landreth has enlisted guitar wiz Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson to assist in the implementation as well as members of the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra to pull off this masterpiece of fluid music. The recording, made up of 11 tracks is really put together as a sonic story pulling components of many types of music into the fabric with different instruments leading you in every path and weaving a auditory picture of the journey that you're taking, creating space and sonic dynamics to accentuate the milestones. I find it really interesting to see musicians experiment outside of the box that they are typically confined to and applaud Landreth on this very successful project.
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sonny Landreth's first-ever all-instrumental album features Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani

SONNY LANDRETH’S 11th ALBUM ELEMENTAL JOURNEY
IS FIRST ALL-INSTRUMENTAL OUTING
May 22 release features Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, Robert Greenidge
and Steve Conn.
BREAUX BRIDGE, La. — Sonny Landreth’s 11th album, bearing the fittingly evocative title Elemental Journey, is something very different from the Louisiana slide wizard. Released on his own Landfall label on May 22, 2012, the new CD is Landreth’s first all-instrumental effort and his most adventurous work to date.
“From day one on the guitar, many genres of music have had an impact on me” says Landreth. “For these recordings, I drew from some of those influences that I hadn’t gone to on previous albums with my vocals. Trading off the lyrics this time, I focused solely on the instrumental side and all this music poured out. Then I asked some extraordinary musicians to help me layer the tracks in hopes of inspiring a lot of imagery for the listeners.”
Like its predecessor, From the Reach (2008), Elemental Journey features guest stars, in this case handpicked by Landreth for what each could bring to a particular aural canvas. Joe Satriani delivers an astonishing, ferocious solo on the audacious opener “Gaia Tribe,” the returning virtuoso Eric Johnson casts his seductive spell on the dusky dreamscape “Passionola” and steel drum master Robert Greenidge brings his magical overtones to the balmy, swaying “Forgotten Story.”
Drummers Brian Brignac, Doug Belote and Mike Burch, each of whom Landreth has worked with in the past, lend their particular feels to various tracks, working with Sonny’s longtime band members, bass player Dave Ranson and keyboardist Steve Conn. Tony Daigle, another key member of Sonny’s team, engineered and mixed the album, while Landreth produced.
“One of the things I’ve always loved about a good instrumental song is that it can be more impressionistic and abstract,” Landreth notes. “Though melody is always important, it’s even more significant with an instrumental. So what I wanted to achieve was something more thematic with lots of melodies and with a chordal chemistry that was harmonically rich. That’s when I got the idea to treat the arrangements with more layering and to have the melodies interweave like conversations. I also wanted it to be more diverse, to not adhere to any categories. I wanted to leave it wide open to possibility.”
The album blossoms forth with unexpected yet seamless juxtapositions. For example, Spanish moss atmospherics enwrap visceral bursts of rock and jazz on “Gaia Tribe,” and Sonny’s slide swoops and soars over a Jamaican-inspired groove with Greenidge’s Trinidadian pans on “Forgotten Story,” while “Wonderide” finds zydeco romancing classical.
“On ‘Wonderide,’ you can hear some of Clifton Chenier’s Creole influences and then it morphs into a classical motif with the strings playing more complex changes,” Sonny points out. “When I started experimenting with it, I realized that the tempo for a good zydeco groove could easily transition into the fingerpicking style of phrasing found in classical guitar music. Then it was a matter of adding the strings to give it more depth with tension and release, expanding the overall sound.”
Strings play a featured role on five of the pieces. The string arrangements by Sam Broussard — moonlighting from his gig as guitarist in Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys — are played by members of Lafayette’s own Acadiana Symphony Orchestra, conducted by its music director, Mariusz Smolij, a world-renowned maestro. The strings are employed in a particularly inventive way wherever they appear on Elemental Journey, frequently embellishing the tunings that Landreth uses for slide guitar — “sometimes in unison like a horn section, sometimes as a legitimate quartet or full blown orchestra,” Sonny explains.
The concept occurred to him after Smolij invited him to perform with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra for a 2005 Christmas show for which he played Bach’s Cantata 140. “It was something I’d always wanted to do,” says Sonny. “I’d played the trumpet in school band and orchestra from grade school through college, so I was exposed to classical music and jazz, but I’d never played anything like that on slide guitar! So that really fired me up, and it became the backdrop for some of the classical influences on this album.”
There’s a particularly thrilling moment in the first track, “Gaia Tribe”, that occurs when two seemingly antithetical elements lock in an embrace. “When I first heard Joe’s solo,” Sonny recalls, “I went, ‘This is incredible! I love it but it just comes up out of nowhere — how am I gonna make it fit?’ After talking to Joe, I realized this was a great opportunity to raise the bar creatively. That’s when I got the idea to double the surprise factor and have the strings make their first appearance for the album in the middle of his solo. The next thing I know, a song that had started out as kind of a simple surf thing had become this wild ride of an epic piece and one of my favorite productions.”
Landreth’s music has always been evocative, a vibrant mixture of indigenous sounds and images informed by Delta blues and Faulkner alike. But here, by eschewing lyrics and vocals, he’s located something especially pure and unfettered. “What I’d hoped to end up creating was sonic stories without words,” he says. “And because there are no lyrics, it’s really important to connect on an emotional level. All of the titles for these songs have meaning for me — some of them are impressions from post-Katrina, Rita, the Gulf Spill, friends of mine and their experiences — so that’s part of it too. Still, I want listeners to feel something that resonates with them personally. I’ve always tried to make music that engages you on a deeper level that way.”
Prepare to be engaged . . . and transported.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Legendary guitarist 'Eric Johnson' announces July UK tour

24 HOUR BOX OFFICE: 0844 478 0898
BOOK ONLINE: www.thegigcartel.com

Eric Johnson, the celebrated American electric guitarist, hailed by Joe Bonamassa as “one of the greatest guitar players of all time,” will embark on his first UK tour at the Holmfirth Picturedrome on Friday 5th July. The 5-date mini tour will showcase material from his current album “Up Close”, as well as from his rich back catalogue.

Planet Rock will start at ticket pre-sale on Wednesday 7th March, followed by a ticket pre-sale from Ents24 on Thursday 8th March.

Tickets go on sale to the general public via the 24 hour box office: 0844 478 0898, www.thegigcartel.com.

Johnson is also a respected acoustic, lap steel, resonator and an accomplished pianist and vocalist. He’s best known for his diverse array of music genres evidenced by many different styles incorporated in his studio and live performances, including rock, blues, jazz, fusion, folk, New Age and country music.

Guitar Player magazine called Johnson "one of the most respected guitarists on the planet". His critically acclaimed, platinum-selling 1990 recording Ah Via Musicom produced the single Cliffs of Dover, for which he won the 1991 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. Cliffs of Dover also appeared in Guitar Hero 3 – Legends of Rock.

In 1996 he joined forces with Joe Satriani and Steve Vai for the original and legendary G3 tour that garnered a worldwide audience with the platinum selling CD and DVD release.

Johnson is best known for playing stock Fender Stratocasters and Gibson ES-335 electric guitars through a triple amp setup that consists of vintage Fender and Marshall amplifiers.

He plays vintage Stratocasters but also his ‘Fender Signature Stratocaster’ model, which is one of the best selling instruments in the Fender catalogue. He also designed a Signature acoustic guitar that was released by Martin guitars.

24 HOUR BOX OFFICE: 0844 478 0898
BOOK ONLINE: www.thegigcartel.com

Holmfirth Picturedrome
Friday 6th July

Tickets: £25.00 (advance)
Box Office 0844 478 0898
Market Walk, Holmfirth, HD9 7DA
www.picturedrome.net

Glasgow O2 ABC
Saturday 7th July

Tickets: £25.00 (advance)
Box Office 0844 477 2000
Doors: 7pm / Stage: 7:30pm
300 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JA
www.o2abcglasgow.co.uk

The Sage Gateshead
Sunday 8th July

Tickets: £25.00 (advance)
Box Office 0191 443 4661
Doors: 7pm / Stage: 7:30pm
St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, NE8 2JR
http://thesagegateshead.org

Bath Komedia
Monday 9th July

Tickets: £25.00 (advance)
Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Doors: 7:30pm / Stage: 8pm
22-23 Westgate Street, Bath, Avon, BA1 1EP
www.komedia.co.uk/bath

London – Leicester Square Theatre
Tuesday 10th July

Tickets: £30.00 (advance)
Box Office: 0844 478 0898
Doors: 7pm / Stage: 7:30pm
6 Leicester Place, London, WC2H 7BX
www.leicestersquaretheatre.com

Eric Johnson’s stature as one of the premier guitar players in contemporary music is his artistic trump card, backed by a Grammy Award and five nominations, platinum album, Top 10 hits like Cliffs of Dover, praise from critics and the esteem of his peers. The full range of his talents marks him as a gifted songwriter, dynamic live performer, singer, pianist, and song interpreter.

His myriad and distinctive musical gifts are vividly evident on Johnson’s current studio album, Up Close, released on his own Vortexan Music label. The 15-track disc finds the noted master craftsman cutting loose, roaming through variations on the rock, blues, pop, country and jazz genres, pushing the dynamic range of his artistry, and mixing it up with such friends and peers as guitarists Jimmie Vaughan and Sonny Landreth, plus guest vocalists Steve Miller, Johnny Lang and Malford Milligan.

“I decided to let go a bit and allow things to happen and just go with the flow,” explains Johnson about his approach to the album. “That’s a direction that works better for any artist, and especially for me. I like my work to have a high proficiency, but I also want to go for the energy and magic of the performances.”

That vitality and vivid musicality brims from such hook-filled numbers as the hard-rocking instrumentals Fat Daddy and Vortexan and the driving vocal song Brilliant Room (sung by Milligan). Gem is splashed with bright and painterly six-string colors, Soul Surprise finds Johnson weaving a picturesque tapestry of both his guitar and piano gifts, and Arithmetic summons up a swirling and spectral kaleidoscope of guitars, keyboards and Johnson’s singing.

His early years and influences are explored on the Mike Bloomfield/Buddy Miles-composed blues song Texas (from the 1968 Electric Flag album A Long Time Comin’) on which Miller sings and Johnson’s and Vaughan’s guitars engage in stirring interplay, and Austin (sung by Lang), which looks back to his teens in his hometown as a budding player and avid music fan who would be allowed to slip under-aged into music nightclubs and “go sit in the back and listen to bands.”

On The Way is a delightful Texas meets Tennessee twang romp, and A Change Has Come To Me opens with a six-string nod to Jimi Hendrix (a prime Johnson influence) that carries through the track as it burgeons into a celebration of the pleasures of the deep and soulful groove. Interstitial instrumental snippets like the spellbinding Indian music-flavored opener Awaken and the dreamlike Traverse and The Sea and the Mountain plus Change (Revisited) weave the collection together. Johnson caps the CD with the uplifting grace note of Your Book on which he and Landreth interweave their playing (including Johnson’s stately piano work) with emotive elegance.

The lyrical themes of reflection, emotional revelations, personal growth and fulfillment are underscored on the album by Johnson’s most daring, urgent, progressive and at times raw and fervent guitar work to date. With its sonic immediacy (thanks to a mix by engineering legend Andy Johns) and openhearted musicality and songwriting, Up Close truly lives up to its name as Johnson continues to forge fresh and compelling new dimensions of his artistry.

Johnson leapt to the forefront of contemporary music some 20 years ago as “an extraordinary guitar player accessible to ordinary music fans,” as the Memphis Commercial Appeal hails him, with his landmark million selling 1990 album Ah Via Musicom. Hailed as a record that reached near-classic proportions within the guitar community, it was preceded by dedicated groundwork as a live performer that marked him as a talent bound for great things. And it’s been followed by a diverse and fascinating musical journey that inspired The New Age Music Guide to rave that “Eric Johnson plays guitar the way Michelangelo painted ceilings: with a colorful vibrancy that's more real than life."

His achievements include being enshrined in Guitar Player’s Gallery of Greats and named one of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of the 20th Century by Musician magazine amongst numerous other awards. He enjoys the admiration of many of his fellow players and has performed/ recorded with such notables as Chet Atkins, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and others.

He was tapped by Eric Clapton to appear at the 2004 Crossroads Guitar Festival and plays his second stint of the Experience Hendrix tour in fall 2010. He has paid homage in song to such players as Jerry Reed (“Tribute to Jerry Reed” on his album Bloom), fellow Texan Stevie Ray Vaughan (the Grammy-nominated track “SRV”) and Wes Montgomery (who Johnson saluted in his Ah Via Musicom song “East Wes”), and boasts both a signature Fender Stratocaster electric and Martin MC-40 acoustic guitar. "Cliffs of Dover" is featured in the video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock as the final winning challenge. And in addition to his recordings, tours and DVDs under his own name, Johnson also plays with his side project Alien Love Child, which released an in concert album in 2000, Live and Beyond, that earned an instrumental Grammy nomination for the song “Rain.”

Even before his breakthrough with Ah Via Musicom, Johnson made his indelible mark with his 1986 first album release Tones. It landed him on the cover of Guitar Player magazine, which hailed the album as "a majestic debut,” and earned him his first Grammy nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance with the track “Zap.” Ah Via Musicom won Johnson a Grammy for Cliffs of Dover, which was one of his record three Top 10 instrumental hits from a single album alongside Trademark and Righteous. Following three years of concerted touring that established him as a continuing popular concert attraction, Johnson recorded Venus Isle, which on its release in 1996 garnered him another Grammy nomination. In 1998, his previously unreleased first album recording from 1976, Seven Worlds, was finally issued. A limited-release collection of demos, outtakes and live tracks, Souvenir, hit the streets in 2002. His most recent studio album, 2005’s Bloom, yielded a fifth Grammy nomination.

Johnson’s success over the last 20 years was presaged by a grassroots rise in which he made his bones and burgeoning reputation as a formidable musical talent and player since he first became a local sensation in the Austin clubs as a teen with the psychedelic rock band Mariani.

Trained on classical piano as a youth, he switched to the guitar after the stateside arrival of the Beatles in 1964. As a young player he delved deeply into blues, jazz, country and other styles that inform his music. By the mid-1970s, Johnson began touring and sparking a buzz about his astonishing talents in the jazz-rock outfit Electromagnets, whose recordings and a live TV performance from that era were released in the 1990s to critical acclaim. He cut his teeth in the studio on sessions for Cat Stevens, Christopher Cross and Carole King, and by 1984 his stature in Texas and beyond was so strong that the unsigned artist was tapped to make his first appearance on the prestigious PBS concert show “Austin City Limits.” At the urging of such stars as Cross and Prince, Johnson was signed to a major label deal with Reprise Records and emerged onto the international recording scene.

His dynamism as a performer is captured on the 2008 DVD Anaheim and the 2005 DVD/CD release of his second “Austin City Limits” show in 1994, Live From Austin, Texas. His 1996 G3 tour with guitarists Joe Satriani and Steve Vai yielded a best-selling album and platinum DVD, G3: Live in Concert.

Johnson’s eminence as an artist goes beyond just his stunning guitar mastery. His keen compositional sense and lyrical playing create instrumentals that speak to listeners and convey thoughts, emotions and imagery, and Up Close also spotlights his singing and sure way with words.“It really boils down to the music and the song at the end of the day,” he explains. “If it doesn’t have that it gets boring for me.”

On his current album release, “I wanted to bare myself a little further and show myself more,” says Johnson. “As you evolve as a person and artist, you reach forks in the road where you look at what it is you really want in life and to bring out in yourself and thereby affect other people. What’s most important to me is to grow as a person, and because of that, I want my music to also grow and have more of a profound meaning and impact.” And Up Close finds Eric Johnson continuing to expand his artistry with compelling and enriching results.



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