LIVE: Sonny Landreth & Cindy Cashdollar @ The Egg, 2/13/16
Review by Greg Haymes
Photographs by Dan Hogan
Following a solo rip through “Native Stepson” early in the night at The Egg’s Swyer Theatre, Sonny Landreth explained, “That one was trying to answer the question, ‘Can a senior citizen with a new Medicare card still rock sittin’ down?'”
In case you doubted, the answer was an unqualified, “Yes.”
Louisiana slide guitar master Landreth opened the evening with a four-song, largely instrumental, 30-minute solo set that pushed well beyond the usual blues strictures, offering more adventurous, outside-the-box interpretations of songs that stretched from the swampified “Zydeco Shuffle” to the undeniable, irresistible two-step “Allons Danser! (Let’s Dance!),” the short set’s lone vocal.
Then without taking an intermission or even skipping a beat, Landreth was joined on stage by lap steel virtuoso (and Woodstock native) Cindy Cashdollar, and together they proceded to slink their way through nuggets like “Blues Attack,” Skip James’ “Cherry Ball Blues” and Landreth’s “Hell at Home,” a self-described “domestic disturbance song.”
To paraphrase “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” “Rhythm section? We don’t need no stinkin’ rhythm section.”
Indeed, for more than an hour Landreth and Cashdollar attacked their instruments in every manner imaginable – as they expertly worked their way through a blues-heavy set that featured the terrific twosome attacking their instruments in nearly every imaginable fashion – pickin’ ‘n’ strummin’, pokin’ ‘n’ strokin’, slappin’ ‘n’ tappin’. And with no rhythm section to anchor them, they were free to push and pull the beat as they chose – lagging behind here to emphasize a moody atmosphere; surging ahead there to underscore a particular steam-powered urgency.
The emphasis on the blues rarely comes as a surprise when a guitar and a slide meet in the hands of expert players like Landreth and Cashdollar, but Landreth was also deep in blues mode in support of his latest album, Bound by the Blues, and a goodly portion of the concert – including time-honored nuggets like Robert Johnson’s “Walkin’ Blues” and Elmore James’ “It Hurts Me, Too,” as well as Landreth’s own tale of his woe-filled, Rocky Mountain climbing journey, “The High Side” – was drawn from the album.
Along the way, they also dipped into B.B. King’s minor-key songbag; pummeled through the swaggering, bitter bruiser “All About You” and unleashed perhaps their best, most biting solos of the night on Robert Wilken’s gem “Prodigal Son” (likely best known from the Stones’ version on Beggars Banquet).
So amidst all the blues bluster, it was a stroke of pure genius on Cashdollar’s part to wrap up the the night with a perfectly lovely, delicate rendition of the traditional Louisiana waltz “Chez Seychelles,” sending the ravenously appreciative crowd home on a sweet, sweet note.
SONNY LANDRETH SET LIST
Next of Kindred Spirit (instrumental)
Zydeco Shuffle (instrumental)
Native Stepson (instrumental)
Allons Danser! (Let’s Dance!)
SONNY LANDRETH & CINDY CASHDOLLAR SET LIST
Cherry Ball Blues
Hell at Home
All About You
It Hurts Me Too
The High Side
Walkin’ Blues (Robert Johnson)