Jim Campilongo is one of those rare artists that' works every inch of tone, style and technique, without ever losing you emotionally. He's definitely a guitar player's guitar player, but you get the sense that he thinks as much like a songwriter when you hear his solo albums. His music conjures the ghosts of classic country and early rock and roll, but through a modern lense. At times haunting and ethereal, upbeat and swinging, dark and disonant, Campilongo keeps you guessing and thoroughly entertained. I can't say I've heard all his stuff, but one listen to Live At The Du Nord is enough to make a convert out of anyone.
I think it's fair to say that Campilongo's sound isn't something that anyone is just going to cop by plugging into the right gear. As with any great tone there is alchemy going on there that can't be distilled down to a method or blueprint. But perhaps if we take a look under the hood it might provide us with a cool starting point on our own quest for the right sound.
Before we get into gear though, I think the first place to look would be the players that influenced him. He sites his biggest influence (and mentor) as Roy Buchanan, which makes total sense. Buchanan was a master at things like pitch harmonics, tone & volume pot swells, bending behind the nut, and all matter of pedal steel style innovations. Getting a grip on these types of techniques would no doubt be a great starting point. Buchanan's first self-entitled album is a treasure trove of these ideas. (more...)