The first time I heard/saw Sonny Landreth
by Scott Trinkle
The first time I saw Sonny play and then met him afterward I was blown away by his artistry. I asked him to sign my copy of his album, and I was so in awe I didn't get the chance to tell him how Magnificent he is...I'll do everything I can to get to see him in Philadelphia on September 15, 06. What a majestic man, who, in his bios, reacts to much of the world like I do...I thought I was alone in the way I was impressed by life and its many events. Sonny will always be on the top of my pedestal! Look forward to seeing/meeting him again!
by Jim Krizek
The first time I heard Sonny Landreth, I didn't hear him at all - I saw him. That is, I ran across a short article in TIME magazine about him and read it. This was right after South of I-10 came out, in '95 or '96. It was one of those little 3 or 4 paragraph articles they have in the back on entertainment or media subjects. I don't remember much specific from that article, but I remember how it affected me. I said to myself, this guy must be playing music I'd like. It was at a time in my life when I was sort of out of it musically, and in dire need of some new tunes. So I went right out and bought South of I-10, sight unseen, never having hear a lick of Sonny. BOOM! Shootin' for the Moon ... and I was hooked instantly.
Soon thereafter, I bought every CD of his I could find, which at that time was only Outward Bound, Down in Louisiana, and Blues Attack. A few months later, we went to hear Sonny play at a small club in Orlando, FL. Unbelievable, I kept thinking, where has THIS guy been hiding? I remember them playing that night all kinds of good stuff from Outward Bound and South of I-10 that I haven't heard live since then.
Four years later, we moved up to North Carolina, and ever since, we've really enjoyed the new digs on a number of levels. The live music scene and FM radio options here are much better, among other things. I've collected all of Sonny's CDs, and sort of got back into blues and roots music in general. I've seen Sonny and Dave Ranson play many times, in a few different cities, with a couple of different drummers, and one time with John Hiatt. Never heard a bad gig from these guys. In the last two years, I've bought a couple of new guitars and started playing again, and wondered why I'd ever stopped.
And I wonder what ever happened to that TIME magazine article. It belongs in a frame on my wall.
I was a Hiatt listener, not really a FAN, but I appreciated his songs and knew who he was. I heard he would be playing at the Keswick theater north of Philadelphia right before Tiki Bar came out. Now, I had wrangled a copy of Tiki Bar (it was due to be released the day before the Keswick concert) 4 weeks before, so I had listened to it quite a bit. I heard this wailing guitar and that's what really made me get tickets for Hiatt's show, to hear this Sonny Landreth. I had heard of Sonny because WXPN played some of his stuff (Creole Angle, Congo Square, Bayou Teche,maybe a few others; and I had heard his name associated with various people) but had really never listen to just him. So my wife and I head up to the Keswick, had seats 3/4 of the way back to the right (fairly large theater) and these guys start with "the eyeball song" from Tiki bar and continued rockin out. Most of the people obviously were there for his hits; as he played them they went wild. But I was floored by Sonny's playing (and John's too, he ain't too bad hisself!) Sonny not only had his moments, but totally added to John's songs. I heard them do Feels like Rain, Paper Thin (GREAT) and FARTHER STARS!!! Yes, Farther Stars live.... Sonny had this wall of incredible sound just pulsating through the crowd - you actually FELT IT!!!!! Probably 99% of the crowd had never heard that song before and they were mouth-hanging mesmerized. It ended...a second or two of silence...and then an eruption from the crowd! That hooked me on Sonny.
That spring, I saw Sonny appearing at the Rams Head in Annapolis, so I got tickets right away. It was my wife's birthday, and I had seats one table back from the stage on the right side. Wouldn't you know it, Sonny played from the right side that night (never seen him do that again- he seems to play on the left of center), so he was right in front of us. Well, I sure couldn't see his hands and fingers at Keswick, but I got an eyeful that night.
Heard Soldier of Fortune, Bayou Teche, Shootin at the Moon, Spider Gris, Levee Town; some that he rarely does now (except for Teche).
So now I'm a "groupie" as my wife says, complete with bowling shirt, going to as many shows as I can. I've met a lot of great people at shows and always try to bring a Sonny virgin to a show with me now - spread the news!!
The first time I heard Sonny was on Entertainment Tonight. At least I THINK it was that show--it was so long ago and no one ever mentions it in their "Sonny Stories" so sometimes I have to wonder if I really did SEE it! I was walking past the TV, which was on, and I heard this music that stopped me in my tracks. I watched the story, heard Sonny's name, memorized the name, and the next day I went to a music store and bought "Outward Bound". I didn't hear too much about Sonny after that (I don't know why it didn't occur to me to go looking for stuff on him!)
A few years back I had been thinking about how I never seemed to go to concerts anymore (in the past I had been to 100's!) and realized that there just wasn't anyone that I wanted to make the effort to see. And shortly after that there was an ad for the annual blues festival in my town in the newspaper. I scanned it just to see who would be attending. When I saw Sonny's name my heart jumped! I was SOOO there! It was a hot and sunny day. Sonny was wearing all black and I remember thinking I was glad he was in the shade otherwise he would have melted! I wasn't sitting too close so I didn't get the full view of his hands in action. But I thought I saw his hand play behind the neck of the guitar and I was thinking, "Did I just see that? Did he play the back of the guitar??" (The next time I saw him I was closer and saw that my eyes had not deceived me!) After the show, I was just hanging out wondering if I should stay for the next performer or leave and I saw Sonny standing by himself near the back of the stage. So, I went over to talk to him and had him sign a copy of "Levee Town". I told him that I hadn't been excited to see a show in a long time until I saw that he was going to be performing at the festival. He put his hand over his heart and thanked me. He was gracious and kind and has always been all the other times I have seen him. Sonny is still the only one I'd make an effort for to this day. That is my story!
by Cynthia jazzcat
first time I heard Sonny
Driving home after a night class a few years ago (okay, in early 2000), I was listening to our wunderbar NPR station, where they play the best new stuff 4 nights and Saturday afternoons ("Out of the Box"). The format: he plays 3 songs by different artists and then tell us who we heard and a bit about them, then another 3 songs, and so on.
Suddenly I heard some AMAZING music swirl and ooze out of my car speakers--so incredible that halfway through the song, I was asking out loud, "WHO is THIS???"
I sat in my driveway with the radio on, listening to the next two songs too, so that I wouldn't miss the name of the performer. Rollie said, "And we just heard "Levee Town" from the album of the same name, by Sonny Landreth." (The other two were Supreme Beings of Leisure and Tao of Groove--both also good, but nothin' like mah man Sonny.)
I immediately backed the car out of the driveway and tore off to Planet Music, which stays open til midnight. Found and bought Levee Town (filed under "Cajun," oddly enough--now they've got him under Blues).
Listened to it all the way home (THAT was a very good 45-min. drive).
And as Mel sings on "Down in Louisiana": "And ever since, I ain't been right."
by Cynthia jazzcat
the first time I saw Sonny
In June 2003, we were celebrating my nephew’s graduation down at the oceanfront. As we left the restaurant around 6:30 pm, my husband said, “hey, Sonny Landreth’s playing for free at the Boardwalk Art Show—wanna go?”
I had not gone out to hear a live band in at least a decade.
I thought, well, it’s sandy and breezy out there (the stage is right against the boardwalk, waves crashing in the background), and we’re all dressed up, and it’ll be crowded… I NEARLY said “nah”… But I remembered that magic sound on Levee Town and said, “sure, why not?”
So we went on over and found a bench (I had tripped on a curb in Manhattan the week before and sprained my ankle, so I was hobbling); the band was just starting to play. (This was the summer of the famous year of wall-to-wall touring: between John Hiatt and the Goners’ “Beneath this Gruff Exterior” and Sonny’s own “Road We’re On,” which both debut’d that January, his band must have played 345 days that year.) They played some stuff I hadn’t heard (basically, the entire new CD) and then a magnificent version of Brokenhearted Road (every version is magnificent, though, right?).
Halfway through the set, I couldn’t take being so far away—I needed to see (as Georgia said) what this guy was doing with his hands! So we moved up front in the small crowd, danced to the music as much as we could (my ankle)…I remember they played World Away--I couldn’t believe the unearthly sounds! (To date, I have only heard that song 3 times live.) I also noticed that the bass & drums were pretty amazing… On one song late in the set, Dave broke a string!
After the astonishing encore of Congo Square (another first for me), he announced that they were selling CDs and bowed to everyone as he left the stage. My old man said, “wanna go look at the CDs?” Like a fool, I thought, no, let’s not bother the man. (!!!)
We walked out on the beach, where the huge full moon was just rising over the ocean, golden and ripe, with a few wispy red clouds around it, shining a wide path of light all the way to the edge of the sand… Later I learned that Mojo was there too, with his daughter (from the John Hiatt list).
Drove out the next day to a conference at UNC Chapel Hill and stopped at their Borders to pick up “Road We’re On.” I played it while driving around the UNC campus with the windows down, and twice at stop signs, someone stepped over to the car to ask who I was listening to.
I have to say that that show was a life-changing event for me. I have met incredible people and made wonderful friends through the world of Sonny Landreth!
Not long ago on a Saturday night in October'04, I'm home alone because my wife had to work. Our 2 little girls are asleep and I'm channel surfing about 11:30 pm. I came across the music show "Mountain Stage" which originates in West Virginia and some skinny middle-aged man with a Stratocaster just finished a song. Hmmmm....this guy looks like a school teacher and probably sounds like one too. He announces the next song by saying "girl, your a world away". I then proceed into a state of shock by what I'm hearing. I alternate between being wowed and then extreme nervousness about maybe not finding out who this is. Luckily they flash up on the screen the song's name; written by Sonny Landreth. SONNY LANDRETH..... who the hell is Sonny Landreth. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about the great musicians out there, but I was wrong!! I couldn't believe the tones and sound being made!! They concluded their part of the set with "Ioana", now known as "Port of Calling"..... again.... wild horses couldn't drag me away from my tv set. Fortunately for me, they repeated the broadcast and I recorded it on dvd. I play that dvd constantly (which also has "All About You" and "Hell at Home" on it too..... they're all killer versions of killer songs!!!!
If you have a Sonny "first" you would like to share,
email me and let me know. Or, visit the discussion board and you can post it there