Origin: Lafayette, Louisiana
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Clyde Vernon “Sonny” Landreth (born February 1, 1951) is an American blues musician from southwest Louisiana who is especially known as a slide guitar player. He was born in Canton, Mississippi, settled in Lafayette, Louisiana and now lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana.
Landreth is known as “the King of Slydeco” and plays with a strong zydeco influence. Guitarist Eric Clapton has said that Landreth is one of the most advanced guitarists in the world and one of the most under-appreciated.
Landreth is best known for his slide guitar playing, having developed a technique where he also frets notes and plays chords and chord fragments by fretting behind the slide while he plays. Landreth plays with the slide on his little finger, so that his other fingers have more room to fret behind the slide. He is also known for his right-hand technique, which involves tapping, slapping, and picking strings, using all of the fingers on his right hand. He wears a special thumb pick/flat pick hybrid on his thumb so that he can bear down on a pick while simultaneously using his finger-style technique for slide.
Landreth first played in Clifton Chenier’s Red Hot Louisiana Band, as the only white member of the band. After Chenier’s death in 1987, Landreth played in John Hiatt’s band on his breakthrough albums: Slow Turning (1988), The Tiki Bar is Open (2001), Beneath This Gruff Exterior (2003) and also with John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers.
Landreth has recorded and toured with Jimmy Buffett, and accompanied him on his 2006, 2007, and 2010 summer tours. He headlined main stage at MerleFest in 2011. A huge favorite of Eric Clapton, Landreth has performed at Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival every year since 2004.
His new record is Bound By the Blues, a powerful tribute to the durability and flexibility of the genre, and to his own creative vision. With Landreth’s mountainous guitar tones and nuanced singing leading the way on its ten songs, it is also a radical departure from his previous two albums, 2012’s classical/jazz fusion outing Elemental Journey and 2008’s guest-star-studded From the Reach.
Title song “Bound By the Blues” name-checks Muddy Waters, Jimi Hendrix, Buffy Sainte-Marie and some of Landreth’s other musical heroes along the way. He offers, “Singing about the unifying power of the blues and paying tribute to the great artists who’ve helped shape the music in that song means a lot to me.”
So does paying homage to his hero and fellow slide slinger Johnny Winter, who died last year, with the instrumental “Firebird Blues.” Winter was an important influence. The two men became friends and often shared bills in recent years, and Landreth made a guest appearance on Winter’s 2011 return-to-form Roots.