Sonny Landreth slides his way into the Iron Horse

By Jack Nichols

(Courtesy of Carl Lender/Flickr)
(Carl Lender/Flickr)

Sonny Landreth, “The King of Slydeco,” will perform at Northampton’s Iron Horse Music Hall this Thursday, two years after the Cajun-influenced bluegrass and country artist released his lastest album.
Landreth released his first album in 1992, introducing listeners to his unique guitar-playing style. As an amazing slide player, Landreth creates a smooth, good-natured Cajun feel in his music.
However, one only needs to listen to one of his debut album’s highlights, “When You’re Away,” to appreciate all aspects of Landreth’s guitar abilities, as he strays away from the slide. His guitar prowess is almost always complemented by charming and warm Louisiana-style lyrics.
Over the last 20 years, Landreth has created a name for himself in the world of music. After receiving the AMA Instrumentalist of the Year award in 2005, Landreth performed with big names such as Jimmy Buffet, John Hiatt, Eric Johnson and most regularly, Eric Clapton. Clapton dubbed Landreth “one of the most advanced guitarists in the world, and one of the most under-appreciated,” in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
Clapton clearly shares these sentiments with other prominent artists.
Jimmy Buffet has had Landreth join him on three summer tours, and MerleFest in North Carolina gave him the main stage in 2011. It is clear that fans also appreciate the talent behind Landreth’s music, as his 2008 album, “From the Reach,” earned him the number one spot on Billboard’s Blues Album Chart.
Landreth’s most recent album, “Elemental Journey,” released in 2012, strayed away from the model he initially established for himself. This album was released under Landreth’s own Landfall label and serves as his first all-instrumental work. The album shows a clear progression of his musical talent.
No longer focusing solely on Louisiana Cajun influences, Landreth delves into the realism of Spanish rock and jazz on “Gaia Tribe,” and Jamaican groove on “Forgotten Story.”
However, Landreth does stay true to his zydeco and Cajun roots in “Wonderide.” This one-of-a-kind album capitalizes on Landreth’s graceful guitar skills and showcases his strong songwriting and vocals. Landreth uses 11 songs to create a compilation of blues, strings, rock, country, zydeco, reggae and jazz. With no new songs to promote, Landreth will most likely be drawing mainly from this album during his upcoming concert.
Landreth is known for bringing guests on stage to complement his music. His performance will surely be both unique and energetic, showcasing various aspects of his work.
He will play this Thursday at 7 p.m. at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

Jack Nichols can be reached at [email protected]