I first met Mr. Lang at the Port Fairy Folk Festival while on tour in Australia. I became an instant fan. His unique style (both bottle neck and lap) blew me away. I was lucky enough to catch two of his sets at the festival. The first was a full blown electric set that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The second was a captivating acoustic set that mesmerized 3000 plus people for well over an hour. Jeff was kind enough to have me up for a few numbers in the acoustic set. Needless to say, it was the highlight of my tour. For those of you unfamiliar with his playing, here’s a short bio from the ABC/Universal website.
“Australian-based musician Jeff Lang has earned worldwide acclaim as a virtuosic guitarist, a dynamic songwriter and a startlingly unique live performer. With a back catalog of 14 studio albums, Jeff has been featured at major festivals, pubs, clubs, arts centers and venues internationally for the past decade. Blending rock, roots, folk, blues, ballads, instrumentals, improvisation and a devastatingly high level of musicality, Jeff Lang is a singularly unique performer in our world. Throughout his career, Jeff has been showered with achievements and awards – the most outstanding would be his seven ARIA award nominations, as well as his three wins in 2002, 2010 and 2012. It’s been widely acknowledged that Jeff Lang is an extraordinarily individual musician. What enhances his unique nature is his steadfast adherence to a prolific and diverse musical palette and output. A songwriter, a collaborator, a guitar virtuoso and a stunning lyricist, Jeff Lang crafts songs as novellas – rich with depth and vision, yet with an open breathe for individual interpretation.”
“Boy it’s tough whittling the list down to something manageable and succinct! Some of the folks who I love are going to have to be left out, so I encourage anyone to check out the slide playing of Blind Willie Johnson, Robert Johnson, Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Kerryn Tolhurst, Jerry Douglas, Sol Hoopi, Johnny Dickinson, Aubrey Ghent, Derek Trucks, etc etc etc… I might also mention that in addition to slide guitarists some of the sounds that have directly influenced my slide playing have been other instruments like the Ulliean Pipes (Check out “The Pipering of Willie Clancy”), trumpet (Miles Davis “Kind Of Blue” and “Bitches Brew” in particular) and of course great singers (Aretha Franklin, Nina Simone, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke).
But anyway, I’ve included a few folks who influenced me early on in my playing, some who have had an effect down the line, and a couple who are contemporaries of mine who I reckon are the biz. Hope you enjoy the sounds! ”
TRACK: IF WALLS COULD TALK
ARTIST: RY COODER
“Ry Cooder was amongst the earliest music I can remember hearing in the house. My dad would play “Chicken Skin Music” and “Paradise and Lunch” and it was my first exposure to slide guitar playing along with Leo Kottke’s “6 & 12 string guitar” album.
TRACK: RAG BAG
ARTIST: DAVID LINDLEY
“I adore David Lindley’s electric lap steel playing – his tone is just the best – but when I heard this solo acoustic song on his “El Rayo Live” EP it really opened up some doors for me. I hadn’t heard anyone on acoustic lap steel play this way, with the bass being held down underneath the treble runs on top. And his right hand is amazing. He keeps that groove going so strong. His tone on acoustic steel guitar with a magnetic pickup in the soundhole really influenced me too. He’s probably my chief influence on lap slide.”
TRACK: RAAG SHUDH SARANG
ARTIST: DEBASHISH BHATTACHARYA
“Debashish is to my ears the most technically advanced lap slide player on the planet. His command of his instrument is without peer, but it’s all incredibly soulful and deeply musical, not merely ‘flash for flash-sake’. Watching him play is always a reality check!”
TRACK: ROCKIN’ IN RHYTHM
ARTIST: DAVID TRONZO
“I first heard of David Tronzo in a copy of Guitar Player magazine sometime in the late-eighties or early-nineties. Here’s a guy who started out being influenced by Duane Allman but instead of aping him he veered off into his own whole trip – playing high-level jazz on electric bottleneck. He really doesn’t sound like anyone else around. There’s a couple of Tronzo Trio albums worth hunting down: one called “Roots” and the other is a live album called “Yo-Hey” and there’s some seriously out-there stuff on them. He plays with a paper cup at times to get a sort of steel drum-like timbre and when he lets fly with the bottleneck it is as if John Coltrane is blowing through his guitar. Listen to the way he de- and re-constructs this Duke Ellington tune. He’s amazing.”
TRACK: WHEN THE ROLL IS CALLED UP YONDER
ARTIST: KELLY JOE PHELPS
TRACK: ALL BY MYSELF
ARTIST: MATT WALKER
Photo Credit: Ursula Wall http://www.