Yesterday was quite a momentous day of music for me and my new “Slide Guitar Summit” project, and I had two more true slide guitar “greats” play with me. This time it was Cindy Cashdollar and Sonny Landreth, who played with me on 2 tracks of my Toolin’ Around Woodstock album a few years back. We had a great time then, and we had a great time now and I wrote a specific song for Sonny to play on for this album, as well as conjuring up 2 classics for Cindy to play on with me.
It brings up an interesting issue; that of writing for a specific person and their playing style. Of course, with the tune being a duet, it’s a piece of music intended for the both of us, so it must bring out the best in us, while at the same time I love how a piece can “challenge” an artist. This helps keep the album and song more original feeling too, since it was not conceived by the player, but was conceived with the player in mind. The first time I had to do this was my first Toolin’ Around album, composing tunes that fit and also “challenged” people like Duke Robillard, Albert Lee, Jerry Douglas, Duane Eddy and others, while the remainder of the songs for Danny Gatton and Brian Setzer were just really nice “covers” that we could take into our own hands, and make our own.
What was really a treat about yesterday’s session was just how far out we were able to take the arrangements. It was a literal “field day” when it came to creativity, and we basically left no stone unturned! It’s so good to be able to trade off and play off of each other…sometimes going from 2 bars each, to one bar, and then even sometimes just a half a bar to answer each other’s licks! In the middle of the recording, we took a break to do a “round table” discussion about slide guitar, since we’re also filming the sessions for a documentary, and it was an interesting exploration into just what drew each of us, all from very different backgrounds, to the sound and history of slide guitar, and just how each of our own styles had evolved.
So it is certainly even hard to quantify just how wonderful and important these kinds of sessions feel, because there’s nothing like making real history with great players who are also your peers. Remember that every time you play, or you record and even when you are playing live, you are making your own kind of important history that in the long run will truly pay off for you. The Slide Guitar Summit now continues, with the next stop being Nashville!!! Stay tuned...
Gibson.com’s Arlen Roth, affectionately known The King of All Guitar Teachers, is music lesson pioneer and the quintessential guitarist. An accomplished and brilliant musician — and one of the very few who can honestly say he’s done it all — Roth has, over the course of his celebrated 35-year career, played on the world’s grandest stages, accompanied many of the greatest figures in modern music and revolutionized the concept of teaching guitar.