“I’ve been wanting to make this kind of record for a long time —– to do an entire album that would feature some of my favorite players as special guests,” says Landreth. “The other thing was how to do it without being yet another clichéd ‘duets’ album. Then I got the idea to write the songs specifically for each of the artists and that was the real hook for me, as a writer as well as a guitar player.”
On the opener, “Blue Tarp Blues,’ Sonny exchanges solos with Knopfler, and the aural contrast between Sonny’s shimmering slide and the Dire Straits leader’s biting Strat is a textural treat. Clapton appears to cut loose on “When I Still had You,” adding his soulful voice to the choruses as well. Slowhand then wails on “Storm of Worry,” a spooky slow blues reminiscent of his Bluesbreakers era.
“The Milky Way Home” is a powerful instrumental rocker that features Eric Johnson on delectably distorted guitar passages that morph into his trademark cello-like sound. “The Goin’ On” shifts into a country-rock groove, with Vince Gill and Sonny alternating between guitar solos and lead vocals. Robben Ford brings his extraordinary tone and phrasing to “Way Past Long” and “Blue Angel” (the latter with Gill on backing vocals), as Landreth swaps his trusty Strat for a Les Paul. Each of these performances is an extraordinary showcase of brilliant players reacting to each other in supremely inspired fashion.
In one of two delightful changes of pace to the album’s six-string focus, Dr. John brings the requisite gris-gris to “Howlin’ Moon” with his trademark rollicking piano and harmonies, and he’s joined on the track by Jimmy Buffett. “Although the idea of the record was playing with my guitar heroes, I wanted to open to the unexpected as well,” Landreth explains. “I’d written ‘Howlin’ Moon’ a long time ago and I’d always had Dr. John in mind for it. Then we took it a step further with Jimmy’s vocal and the vibe was perfect.”
As for the intriguing album title, “I thought about it a lot,” he says. “One of the most interesting things to me in the songwriting process is letting it cook and bubble and see what comes up to the top. As I was writing these songs, the word ‘reach’ kept coming up and ‘reach’ is a pretty powerful word. Aside from the obvious meaning, it can refer to a body of water. And the water imagery kept coming throughout the writing of these songs as well, so it’s like this is what came up out of this whole project for me. What would happen if I invited all these people: where would this take me. I literally reached out to them, and they graciously came on board. Then there was the impact locally of Katrina. So the title is the result of all of the above. It’s coming from an honest place.”
The same could be said of everything this one-of-a-kind artist has done in his single-minded career.
This spring and summer, Landreth will perform at the following festivals: Houston International Festival, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Festival Internationale de Louisiana, Metro Fountain Blues Festival in San Jose, Tropical Heatwave in Tampa, Blues Brews and BBQ Festival in Charleston WV, Cisco Systems Blues Festival Ottawa, Montreal Jazz Festival. Belleville American Music Festival in Wisconsin, Calgary Folk Festival, Blues On The Green in Austin and the Chenango (NY) Blues Festival.
For more information, please visit <www.sonnylandreth.com> .
Fri., June 6 CHARLOTTE, NC The Visulite
Sat., June 7 RALEIGH NC Time Warner Cable Music Pavillion
Fri., June 13 PHILADELPHIA, PA World Cafe Live
Sat., June 14 PHILADELPHIA, PA Citizens Bank Park
Fri., June 27 CHARLESTON, WV Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival, University of Charleston
Sun., June 29 CLEVELAND, OH Beachland Ballroom & Tavern
Tue., July 8 AMAGANSETT, NY Stephen Talkhouse
Wed., July 9 HADDON HEIGHTS, NJ Sundown Music Series, Robert Norcross Memorial Dell
Thur., July 10 OSHKOSH, WI WaterFest, Leach Amphitheater, Riverside Park
Fri., July 11 BELLEVILLE, WI Belleville American Music Festival
Sat., July 12 WEST DUNDEE, IL Clearwater Theater
Sun., July 13 CHICAGO, IL National Guitar Workshop, Judson University
Sat., July 19 MOSCOW, ID Rendezvous in the Park, East City Park
Wed., Aug 6 AUSTIN, TX Blues on the Green
Thurs., Aug. 7 AUSTIN, TX Continental Club
Fri., Aug. 8 HOUSTON, TX Continental Club Houston
Sat., Aug 9 DALLAS, TX House of Blues
Thurs., Aug. 14 NEW HOPE, PA Havana
Fri., Aug. 15 PAWLING, NY Towne Crier
Sat., Aug. 16 CHENANGO, NY Chenango Blues Festival
Sun., Aug. 17 LANCASTER, PA Long’s Park Amphitheatre
Wed., Aug. 20 NEW YORK, NY The New York City Rockin’ the River
Thurs., Aug. 21 APPLE VALLEY, MN Weesner Amphitheater