Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 28

Double Duty

S

ome things don't change. When VG interviewed Texas guitarist Jim Suhler in 2009,
he had already spent 17 years gigging with his
own band, Monkey Beat, and was working as
the second guitarist with George Thorogood
and the Delaware Destroyers.
Some seven years later, his status as a working
musician is still the same. Suhler's most-recent
effort with his own band is a live disc recorded
in November of 2015 at the Kessler Theater in
his hometown of Dallas.
"I've wanted to do a live album for some
time, and the stars finally aligned in my favor,"
Suhler recently told VG. "The Kessler was a
natural, as it's the best listening room in north
Texas, and the audience was so warm and
receptive. It made our job a real joy. Dallas
has a lot of love for music."
Like Thorogood, Suhler utilizes several
guitars in numerous open tunings. He still

has his sparkle-finish Stratocaster, a Chandler
Lectra-Slide, and a '70s Tele Thinline, among
others, but has recently been favoring a 2010
Les Paul and an '80 SG.
"Lately, I use my Les Paul a lot instead of
the Strat, though it's not reflected on this
album," he detailed. "I'm always looking for
new instruments. In fact, the red sparkle Strat
has been temporarily retired in favor of a (2016)
Fender Strat Elite."
Suhler's amps include a '93 Fender VibroKing 3x10, an Ampeg Jet 1x12 reissue, and a
PRS Super Dallas 100-watt head with extension
cab housing a Travis Toy Signature Double
T-12 speaker.
Some of the tracks on the live album include honky-tonk piano and quasi-Tex-Mex
accordion sounds.
"I love roots music, such as Tex-Mex, cajun,
and boogie-woogie piano, so I like to incorpo-

VINTAGE GUITAR

28

December 2016

G. Moseley

Jim Suhler: Rebecca Blissett.

JIM SUHLER

rate those sounds and textures in my songs,"
Suhler said. "We had keyboard player Tim
Alexander on several songs where we needed
organ, piano, or accordion."
Open tunings are all over the new album.
Suhler used the sparkle Strat on standard tunings, but used the Chandler, a '75 Strat, an SG, and
a Telecaster in open tunings. The instrumental
"My Morning Prayer" offers particular intrigue.
A moody, ethereal number, it interpolates volume
swells and whooshing cymbals.
"I'm a great fan of film soundtracks - music
not bound by standard song form - sound
paintings, as such. I use them as transitions in
the show, and/or when I'm switching instruments between songs, so there's no dead air
in the show."
The other instrumental, "Reverie," underlines Suhler's concept of interpolating lessstructured material during live performances.
"It was a song born on the bandstand, inspired by a line that bassist Chris Alexander
was playing," he said. "It's a segue/transition."
While Suhler owns a '31 National Duolian
resonator, and an even more unique stringed
instrument that sounds something like a dobro
in the rollicking "Texasassippi."
"That's a cigar-box instrument with three
strings, tuned fifth/root/fifth," he said. "The
Duolian was used on a cover of Jimi Hendrix's
'Are You Experienced,' which does not appear
on the CD."
Asked which track differs most from a studio
version, Suhler cited the final tune, "Restless
Soul." Clocking in at almost eight minutes, the
Suhler-penned song includes a nod to the late
Rory Gallagher's live version of the chestnut
"Bullfrog Blues."
"I'm a huge fan of the great Irish master, and
it's a tip of the hat to him," Suhler enthused.
"I've gotten to know his former rhythm section, Gerry McAvoy and Ted McKenna, and
I'd love to play it with them one day."
The veteran guitarist was effusive in his
overview of his new live album.
"I'm really pleased with the performances
and the aural quality of the album," Suhler said.
"Engineers Eric Scortia and Paul Osborn did a
fantastic job capturing the show, and George
Geurin did a great job mastering."
For the foreseeable future, Suhler plans on
continuing his two-pronged efforts.
"I'm settled into a multi-gig lifestyle, but it's
always evolving," he observed. "I toured with
Monkey Beat, and alternately, Thorogood, all
summer. I'm always writing and listening to
new music, and I'm compiling songs for my
next album. I love staying busy and doing what
I love. I never take that for granted." - Willie


http://youtu.be/MJsIRbEhbJA?list=PL1293D4CB8DBFF1B9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open

Contents
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Cover
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - IFC
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 1
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 2
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 3
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Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 6
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - 7
Vintage Guitar - December 2016 - Open - Contents
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