Vintage Guitar - May 2018 - open - 30
ticking, feeling the money being sprayed
out of a fire hose, then trying to play music.
I got a record that really chronicles what
we've been doing and what the band has
turned into. There are improv sections and the
band is really free. It was doubly free because
it was live at a place we're very familiar with.
Does Live At Rockwood fully represent
what you do on guitar?
Taking Chances With Kindness
ans of forward-thinking Telecaster spank
and cluck will get a kick out of Jim Campilongo's new album, Live At Rockwood. What
he does with two hands and a guitar plugged
straight into a Fender Princeton will give pedal
freaks a complex. The Jim Campilongo Trio,
with Chris Morrissey on bass and Josh Dion on
drums, go off on beautifully telepathic musical
tangents with inspired tunes and effortless
musicality. Live At Rockwood has all that, an
enthusiastic audience, and Wilco's Nels Cline.
Why a live record?
A lot of my favorite records are live. I saw
Stanley Clarke in concert in 1976; Ray Gomez
was on guitar. I bought a little cassette recorder.
There was some guy yelling next to me really
loud, and I think I listened to that thing for
like 50 hours. If the energy is there, I like it,
but when it's me, sometimes I want every little
hair to be in place (laughs). I thought it had a
great vibe. It was a lot of work to find what was
good, and find what was good enough to put
on a record sonically.
Having Nels Cline on the record is a
I'm really proud of "Cock 'N Bull Story."
There's no way we would have ever done that
in the studio. I think we changed keys at least
twice and then went into this other part. It
ended up being pretty epic.
We recorded every show, so that was real
nice as opposed to going into a studio at 10
a.m., getting drum sounds, feel the clock
Your guitar tones are fierce...
It's a '59 Telecaster through a silverface Princeton combo with a Celestion G10. No pedals. It
had a blown speaker for a couple of nights and
I was kind of enjoying it (laughs); you can hear
the blown speakers on "Jim's Blues." It's a good
blown-speaker sound. That lasted a couple of
weeks, but by about the third week I was like, "I
gotta get a new speaker." (laughs) But I caught
the sweet spot.
All my heroes just plugged into an amp. Then
there are guys like Hendrix who had a Fuzz Face
and a wah, but it still sounds organic. Angus
Young just plugged into an amp, Roy Buchanan,
James Burton, Ted Greene, and Wes Montgomery just plugged into an amp. I get every sound
you can get out of a Telecaster. Maybe I've added
one or two. There are a lot of sounds you can get
out of a Tele, and I think it helps if you have a
relationship with the music, your band, and the
audience. - Oscar Jordan
Jim Campilongo: George Ellsworth.
It represents me as a collaborative artist engrossed with the trio. I'm way more willing to
walk a tightrope with Josh and Chris. There's a
tune called "Jimi Jam" and it's real high-octane.
There's a collective groove and it's really working.
On another night, there's a collective groove that
maybe isn't working, or Chris might not be feeling it, or I'm not. If everybody isn't on the same
page, just treat it with kindness and support it.
If I redefine the "One," or if someone else does,
it's like we're on their side and I'll redefine my
"One." It's kind of like taking chances is encouraged with kindness. There was no crabby jazz guy
glare (laughs). From that springboard, I grew,
and this album chronicles that.
On "I'm Helen Keller And You're A Waffle
Iron," we've never done that during the solo
section. That's one of the reasons I liked it. It
was truly in the moment and, as a listener, I
really enjoyed it. On some of my earlier records,
I would work out a solo just to expedite things
because we didn't have a lot of time. Pound for
pound, I really enjoy listening to more-organic,
improvised stuff more than something that's
crafted. I'm not saying crafted solos aren't great, I
enjoy listening to them, but what we're doing is a
totally different thing. There's a place for both, but
I really enjoy the improvised moments. It doesn't
sound like Ornette Coleman or something, but
it was a long journey.