(HUDSON, N.Y.) – Slide guitarist Sonny Landreth, about whom Eric Clapton said, “Probably the most underestimated musician on the planet and also one of the most advanced,” performs at Club Helsinki Hudson at Friday, July 8, 2011 at 9. Also this weekend, Helsinki presents soul group The Revelations, featuring Tré Williams, on Saturday, July 9 at 9, and the organic Hudson Valley country folk of Chris Neumann and Simple Machines on Thursday, July 7, at 8.
The Southwest Louisiana based singer-songwriter Sonny Landreth is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest slide guitar players. Most guitarists position the slide on the strings over the fret board and, using their other hand, pluck the strings with a flat pick or their fingers to produce their sound. Landreth uses a complex but effective Chet Atkins-styled finger-picking technique with one hand and then with the other uses chords alongside a glass slide over the neck to achieve a freewheeling sound positioned somewhere between Roy Rogers’ impressive slide playing and Geno Delafose’s accordion-anchored zydeco stomp.
A musician’s musician, Landreth’s blues slide guitar playing is distinctive and unlike anything else you’ve ever heard. On his most recent album, From the Reach, Landreth collaborates with five of the greatest guitar players on the planet: Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson and Vince Gill. Also lending a hand on the album are legendary New Orleans pianist and singer Dr. John and Margaritaville’s iconic troubadour Jimmy Buffett.
The Revelations featuring Tré Williams are a new dawning in soul music, one that marries the concrete jungle grit of the streets with the midnight blues of the rural South. The Revelations’ live shows have been compared to the live revues of James Brown or Ike and Tina Turner.
Ever since Tré Williams left the South for New York City, his searing baritone has enraptured those from Harlem’s Amateur Night at the Apollo to rap’s seasoned veterans. His silk and gravel tone recalls that of David Ruffin and Johnnie Taylor. Williams’s soul-shaking sound landed him a record contract with hip-hop icon Nas, and then he was the first R&B male singer signed to Roc-a-fella Records.
The Revelations also features band-mate Rell Gaddis, who has worked with a virtual who’s who of urban music, including Mary J. Blige, Kanye West, and Dr. Dre. Rell also released a few singles of his own, including the club anthem “Love For Free,” and wrote the title track to Usher’s Here I Stand. Rell has now combined forces with Williams to lend his tenor baritone and proven pen to The Revelations.
The Revelations band includes guitarist Wes Mingus (Leela James), drummer Gintas Janusonis (Erykah Badu), bassist Josh Werner (Matisyahu), keyboardist Borahm Lee (Lauryn Hill) and legendary arranger and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Adams.
If there is a Hudson-Valley sound emerging in the region, then Chris Neumann and Simple Machines are solidly in the midst of its pioneers. They play brawny county-folk of the finest kind, delivered by four burly gents with an affection for guitar picking, gorgeous vocal harmony and lyrical songwriting. Although the sound is packed with a genuine sort of countryside honesty that befits both the beauty and the concerns of the Hudson Valley, the music is hard-hitting and often political, confronting the social concerns of the area and the times we live in. The tunes are about folks who are working hard to make important issues like farms and land and love and beauty endure.
Armed with a suitcase drum kit and three guitars, this is a band that can both rock and show their gentle side. Chris Neumann leads the way as front man after a stint with his former band, Citizen Band, and their terrific LP, Songs of Hope Distress and Protest, about the Bush administration. The new incarnation of Simple Machines shows a more melodic and sensitive artist in a terrific new band barreling swiftly toward the top of their game. This is not a typical “hipster sound” but something new and as stirringly familiar as the Hudson Valley roots they sing of.
The band includes Ki Light on lead guitar, lap steel and ukulele, Ray Longstar on bass and Ian Solomon on drums and percussion.
Club Helsinki Hudson
405 Columbia Street