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Jim Campilongo

AMERICAN HIPS (Blue Hen) • Jim Campilongo Electric Trio

I think that I saw the baddest Telecaster player on the planet last night, his name is Jim Campilongo. I mean, I definitely saw him, but I think he's really that good. He had that plank talking and squawking, from a whispered melody to an oncoming train.

I've heard of Jim now for over a dozen years, he was a legend in San Francisco for many years before he became a New York guitar luminary.

Allow me to explain a little (for those who may not know) that the Telecaster is a Fender electric guitar that's been around since the 50s. It is a very popular guitar in Country music of every description, but it's also a splendid axe for jazz and rock, especially blues based rock. One of its signature sounds is a biting, angular tone that cuts through anything and everything, but in a very pleasing and satisfying way, in the hands of the anointed. Some of its most distinguished champions have been Roy Buchanan, Robbie Robertson, Danny Gatton, Jimmy Page, and Clarence White. There are, inevitably, many others. My point here is that the name Jim Campilongo needs to be added to the short list of anybody who's keeping one. (The Fender sibling Stratocaster is usually associated with a little rounder sound, sometimes a kind of "quacky" sound as well. Its well known champions include Hendrix, Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mark Knopfler, and a cast of thousands.)

We hope that in digressing here we include more music lovers on the inside of this great record, it's certainly suited to and intended for more than just lovers of guitar music. Bottom line, Campilongo is a fascinating improviser and composer. All the tunes on the record are his, aside from covers of "Aint She Sweet," "Michelle" and "Sweet Dreams," one of the two songs that feature his friend Norah Jones on vocals.

He was very funny, kind and gracious in his patter between songs, far more eloquent than your average guitar slinger. You must listen to the clips of Jim's guitar on the Listen page, for it's unlikely that you've ever heard anyone play the guitar quite like him. Even at his tender age, he is already a statesman of the guitar, and worthy of even greater recognition around the globe. Before the rumored new album gets underway in the studio, get acquainted with American Hips, here.  •  FG

Jim Campilongo

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