by Frank Goodman

Legends in the entertainment business don't come cheap. For those who create them quickly, they're the products of expensive marketing campaigns and radio "promotion." (That's what payola is called these days, in case you haven't heard.)

For those who create them over time, it's a very complicated game of survival against tall odds. You have to be good enough to keep the people coming out to see you. You have to viable enough to keep record labels of whatever size spending money to record and distribute you, and compelling enough to keep journalists writing about you, people talking about you, and club owners booking you. You get older every year and your audience focuses on family (unless your music attracts a younger set, by some near miracle), trends in music change, and your own overhead probably goes up. It takes a fantastic amount of talent, but also sacrifice, and dedication, to survive.

The legend of Sonny Landreth is underground and yet immense, and global. Born in Mississippi and raised in Louisiana, he is already on his second legend, some insiders have said. His earliest and hard to find recordings are starting to pop up all over the place. Some from the 70s have been re-released and are available from the artist's website. His talent and his tunes run so deep that he is rich in the admiration of his peers, a long list of luminaries that includes John Hiatt, Bonnie Raitt, and Mark Knopfler. He has appeared on over 50 CDs of other artists, on a number of continents. He is arguably the finest slide guitarist of our time.

Truth is, he's more than that. He's a world class singer songwriter besides. The trilogy of CDs from '92 (Outward Bound), '95 (South of I-10), and 2000 (Levee Town) tell American stories far too deep to call him just a legendary slide guitarist. Be sure to check out clips on the Listen page from Levee Town, as well as some from his new fabulous blues record, The Road We're On.

We enjoyed a warm and spirited conversation, fueled by a mutuality of friends and similar interests. I didn't admit to him that, although I was very aware of his music and reputation for many years, I really didn't realize how amazing he truly was until I dug way into his last two recordings. If this might also be true for you, we invite you to join our conversation here with Louisiana legend Sonny Landreth, and to add his work to your gallery of greats. continue to interview