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Sonny Landreth finds new directions instrumental to his career

for Journal Register Newspapers

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During more than 30 years of recording -- including tenures with John Hiatt and Jimmy Buffett's bands -- Sonny Landreth has earned a reputation with his guitar playing, especially on slide.

But he's never dedicated an album entirely to instrumental pieces. Until now.

Landreth's "Elemental Journey," which comes out Tuesday, May 22, features 11 eclectic tracks with no vocals, five of which sport strings from The Acadiana Symphony Orchestra from Lafayette, La., near where the Mississippi-born Landreth now resides.

"It's something I've been wanting to do for a long time," Landreth, 61, says of the all-instrumental approach. "I've always included one or two instrumentals on even the vocal albums. That kind of hearkens back to my earliest influences of the Ventures when I was a kid. They were big heroes of mine, and of course they made all-instrumental records.

"One of their albums in particular was called 'Ventures in Space,' and I never will forget the caption on there -- 'All sounds were made with real instruments.' That got me thinking a little more outside the box in terms of getting sounds and has really stuck with me right up to the present."

Besides the orchestra, "Elemental Journey" also features guest appearances by fellow guitar virtuosos and Landreth buddies Joe Satriani and Eric Johnson on a song each.

"I've gotten to be friends with them, especially with Eric. We've done a lot of shows together," says Landreth, who's also been working on recent sessions for new albums by Jo-El Sonnier and Harry Connick, Jr. "And Joe and I, a couple years ago in Amsterdam we did a show together and I sat in with him, and that inspired me to want to work on this album, too.

"I love everything about them -- their vision of guitar, the roles of producer and artist, compositionally how they approach the songs. When you collaborate with people like that and have the right chemistry, I think the creative bar goes way up."

Sonny Landreth performs Friday, May 18, at the Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 248-544-3030 or visit www.themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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