sonny landreth

Larry Thomas knew how much Alexander Dumble revered Leo Fender and his designs. Thomas took Dumble to visit Leo’s office, where this photo was taken. It hasn’t been changed since Leo’s last day at work.

Photo courtesy of Larry Thomas

His amps fetch eye-popping sums, and the stories are legendary. Dumble’s friends share their memories of a true musical visionary.

Howard “Alexander” Dumble was about as close to a guitar mystic as you can get. He was an eccentric recluse as well known for the mythology surrounding his creations as for the amplifiers themselves. The list of players who have relied on his amps carves a through line of the history of modern electric guitar styles. Eric Clapton, Carlos Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jackson Browne, Robben Ford, Eric Johnson, John Mayer, Sonny Landreth, Joe Bonamassa, and dozens of other A-listers found their sound through a Dumble amp. On January 17th, Dumble passed away at his home in Turlock, California.

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Landreth ventures into new territory with "Elemental Journey," an all-instrumental affair with 11 Landreth originals.

Sonny Landreth
Elemental Journey
Landfall Records

If you’re a fan of Sonny Landreth’s groundbreaking slide guitar and are familiar with some of his previous work, prepare to be surprised with Elemental Journey, his 11th solo release. It represents a real departure from his earlier albums.

Yes, all Landreth’s trademark sounds—the churning, fret-behind-the-slide riffs, bouncy Cajun rhythms, and fat, soaring lines—are here in spades. His intonation and vibrato are as precise and electrifying as ever, and when it comes to wielding a bottleneck with precision at warp speed, Landreth is still the hands-down champ.

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The slide maestro talks about working with two bona fide guitar gods on “Elemental Journey” and his new Fender Signature Stratocaster and Dumble amp.

Blues singer, songwriter, and slide-guitar wizard Sonny Landreth’s 11th release, Elemental Journey, is his first all-instrumental effort. Given Landreth’s penchant for A-list guests [his previous release, From the Reach, included Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Robben Ford, Jimmy Buffet, and Vince Gill, among others], it’s only fitting that he enlisted Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani, two of the biggest legends in instrumental guitar history, to cut some solos on the album.

Landreth was very familiar with both guitarists, having shared the stage with both on separate occasions numerous times over the years [Landreth also made a guest appearance on Johnson’s 2010 release, Up Close]. And given his intimate knowledge of both Johnson and Satriani’s multi-faceted soloing styles, it might have been tempting for him to make suggestions as to which specific elements he wanted his guests to bring out on their takes, especially since he wrote the songs they played on with their musical personalities in mind. Instead, he gave complete creative control to the artists. “I basically just let them do whatever they heard because they’re all just great all artists. I knew it was going to be interesting because they could bring something completely different to it than I ever would have ever thought of.”

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