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Rig Rundown: Circles Around the Sun

Guitarist John Lee Shannon and bassist Dan Horne explore the sonic space with a mix of vintage amps, DIY cabs, and plenty of pedals.

Founded by the late Neal Casal, this instrumental band of sonic explorers was born out of a request for set-break music during the Grateful Dead’s final run of shows in San Francisco and Chicago during 2015. Originally, CATS was going to be a one-off project, but fan feedback pushed Casal and company to release it as Interludes for the Dead. This wasn’t simply wordless Dead covers, but new creations formed in essence and spirt of the Dead.

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Rig Rundown - Carolyn Wonderland

An Austin guitar legend in the making shares her rare Gibson, custom-built amp, ferocious fingerpicking style, and passion for bringing fire to the blues.

Austin, Texas, has been a fertile proving ground for legendary blues guitarists. Some, most notably Stevie Ray Vaughan, have emerged to international acclaim. Others, like Derek O'Brien, make a living and earn the respect of their peers while mostly playing in the city's many clubs and studios. In recent years, Carolyn Wonderland—a revered player on the local scene since her arrival in 2001—has become a rising global star in the genre.

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These before and after photos show the rough condition that our columnist's '65 Super Reverb arrived in, and the worn-but-dignified look of his restoration. Of course, a shiny red ES-335 with a Bigsby pretties things up, too.

Our columnist shares a love story about his longtime passion for the 1965 heavyweight that’s his No. 1.

Let me tell you the story of my first vintage Fender amp, which I call “No. 1"—the 1965 Super Reverb that I consider the greatest guitar amp I've ever heard and played.

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Carlos Santana aims for “the same place Charlie Parker, Beethoven, or Stravinsky would go to” as he solos on one of his gold-leaf-finished Paul Reed Smith custom Singlecuts.

Photo by Marylene Eytier

The legend says the world needs to be “far out,” and he’s cut a new album, Blessings and Miracles, to take it there. He talks about his fabled tone, advice from Miles Davis, his search for universal melodies, and stepping outside the cage.

Carlos Santana plays like a superhighway. His notes—always exquisite and succulent—are founded on terra firma yet travel to many places. The 74-year-old 6-string guru often uses the word multidimensional to describe his technicolor sonic thumbprint. And, through more than a half-century of recordings and concerts, that multidimensionality speaks as articulately as the beautiful unison-string bends in his band’s classic “Samba Pa Ti,” projecting his devotion to melody, intention, the echoes of his influences, imagination, inspiration, awareness, fidelity to his art, and a desire to communicate.

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