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Staff Picks - July 2010

PG editors and Guest Picker Sonny Landreth share their favorite guitarists you should know.

We all have our favorite guitarists. Many of them are household names—Clapton, Beck, Page, Hendrix—and then there are others that are under the radar. There is something special about listening to an amazing guitarist and getting that feeling that you are part of an inner circle. This month we talk to our staff about who they think deserves more recognition, and slide-guitar wizard Sonny Landreth sits in.

Jason Shadrick -- Associate Editor
What am I listening to? Bret Boyer’s Songs for Everyone – Boyer gathers together some of Austin’s best musicians to create a collection of fun songs aimed at kids who need something a little deeper than the Jonas Brothers.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Jazz guitarist Jody Fisher should be required listening for all guitarists. I have seen him play solo guitar for a room full of teenage metalheads and not only keep them engaged, but prove to them that distortion isn’t a necessity.

Shawn Hammond -- Editor in Chief
What am I listening to? Family of the Year’s Songbook – Indie neofolk with a near-perfect blend of tasty acoustic and electric tones, ambient vocal harmonies, and pristine production.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Sir Richard Bishop. From eerie slide work to moody Middle Eastern themes, bastardized gypsy jazz, off-the-wall paeans to Joe Maphis, and even a little feel-good fingerstyle, Bishop takes acoustic guitar someplace new.

Sonny Landreth -- Guest Picker
What am I listening to? Jeff Beck’s Live at Ronnie Scotts – Each time I watch this DVD I find more to marvel at. Jeff is, of course, incredible and this particular line up of players that back him is perhaps the best fit ever.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Monte Montgomery is is an excellent singer/songwriter and a most remarkable guitar player. His fingerpicking technique on acoustic, which he AMPS UP onstage, is impeccable and full of power and grace. Though he has amazing chops, it’s his touch, timing and phrasing that really knocks me out and makes his guitar voice unique.

Joe Coffey -- Editorial Director
What am I listening to? Jimmie Vaughan’s Plays Blues, Ballads & Favorites and The Steve Miller Band’s BINGO! – Two blues covers albums from old faves who haven’t released new full studio recordings in 9 and 17 years, respectively.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Gordon Kennedy. The threetime Grammy winner writes great songs built around great riffs (think of Clapton’s “Change the World.”), produced and tours with Peter Frampton, and played lead on what is widely known as the best Christian rock album ever, Whiteheart’s Freedom. Oh, and his studio’s walls are lined with vintage AC30 grill cloth.

Jordan Wagner -- Associate Gear Editor
What am I listening to? Devo’s Something For Everybody – Beyond the perfect production and execution are some of the best songs, in my opinion, that the band has ever released. Plus, it’s catchy as hell!
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: I’ve been on a pretty big Jesus Lizard kick lately, so I’d have to go with Duane Denison. His style is incredibly distinctive, and I’ve always loved the raw, rockabilly aggression of his guitar playing.

Andy Ellis -- Senior Editor
What am I listening to? Daniel Lanois’ Belladonna. In this moody masterpiece, fragments of echo-drenched pedal-steel guitar drift and weave through layers of pulsing sound.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Jim Campilongo takes his ‘59 Telecaster places others have yet to explore. On his latest album, Orange, Campilongo ricochets between feedback-spiked solos and achingly beautiful melodies while paying homage to Roy Buchanan, edgy mid-’70s Miles Davis, Chet Atkins, The Stooges, and Link Wray.

Liana Prudencio -- Assistant Editor
What am I listening to? Preston Reed – Reed plays like a guitarist and drummer at the same time. After checking out some of his videos on his website, I “tried” to mimic his awesome fingerstyle and tapping. It ended up just looking like I was punishing my guitar. Lo siento mi Ibanez.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Mellow singer/songwriter Sam Beam (a.k.a. Iron and Wine). When I have had a busy day and want to slow things down, I turn to Mr. Beam to soothe me with his smooth picking and vocals.

Adam Moore -- Senior Editor
What am I listening to? The Black Keys’ Brothers. It seems like some fans have had a difficult time getting into the Keys’ latest release because it’s so tough to pin down—that’s precisely why it hasn’t left my iTunes rotation for weeks.
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Greg Brown. Although he’s been off the radar for a while, the original Cake guitarist never quite received the attention he deserved. Endlessly versatile, totally unique and unabashedly quirky, Brown’s guitar work with Cake and Deathray is a must-listen, especially for Gretsch fans.

Chris Kies -- Associate Editor
What am I listening to? Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison – This live masterpiece features some of my favorite Cash songs like “Jackson,” “I Still Miss Someone,” and “Cocaine Blues.”
Favorite guitarist that more people should know about: Thomas Erak of the recently defunct The Fall of Troy. Erak uses pull-offs, hammer-ons, funky chords and quick lead phrases to tantalize your inner-shredder. He wraps everything together with a very tight, melodic style making it all coherent and digestable.

Share what you're listening to, and your favorite guitarist more people should know about in the comments section below.