The April 16 edition of Greasy Tracks spotlighted the Fender Telecaster, long recognized as one of the iconic instruments to make a profound impact in rock, soul, jazz, country and electric blues music.
Veteran Telecaster players G.E. Smith and Jim Weider were interviewed and provided their insight on the guitar, players who influenced them and some of of their favorite songs where the Tele played a pivotal role.
Weider and Smith, along with Tom Pricipato, bring their “Masters of the Telecaster” show to Infinity Hall in Hartford (April 22) and The Kate in Old Saybrook (April 23).
Introduced by the innovative designer Leo Fender in 1950 and eventually branded the Telecaster in 1951, the revolutionary six string holds the distinction of being the first mass-produced, solid-body guitar — despite being possibly overshadowed in popularity by the Fender Stratocaster which made its debut in 1954.
Over the years, the guitar gained great renown in in all musical genres and was the oft-preferred instrument of such legendary players as Jeff Beck, Michael Bloomfield, James Burton, Roy Buchanan, Eric Clapton, Albert Collins, Steve Cropper, Jesse Edwin Davis, Cornell Dupree, Danny Gatton, Merle Haggard, Mabon “Teenie” Hodges, Jimmy Johnson, Terry Kath, Buck Owens, Les Paul, Muddy Waters, Clarence White and Reggie Young to name but a few.
Weider, a life-long Telecaster player, joined The Band in 1985 and was the group’s sole guitarist until 1999 when the group broke up following the death of bassist Rick Danko. Weider would work closely with the Levon Helm Band as lead guitarist from 2009 until Helm’s death in 2012.
In addition to collaborating on designs produced by amplifier guru Mitch
Colby, Weider works occasionally with some side projects — playing a variety of styles from Band covers with The Weight, to more improvisational forays with JIM WEIDER’S ProJECT PERCoLAToR and in the spirit of Helm’s diverse musical catalog with the Midnight Ramble Band.
Smith’s prowess as a player has kept him busy in the studio, on stage and on the set for years. Known as Hall & Oates’ go-to player in the late 1970s into the mid-80s, Smith soon became one of the most recognized guitarists in the U.S. during his tenure as musical director and leader of the Saturday Night Live Band (1985-1995), a position he juggled while putting in a four-year stint playing lead guitar in Bob Dylan’s touring band. In addition to doing studio work with Mick Jagger and David Bowie, Smith along with guitarists Snowy White and Dave Kilminster, backed Roger Waters for three years during The Wall Live tours.
His status as a premier sideman not withstanding, Smith also worked with bands including Moonalice, Great Caesar’s Ghost and Hot Tuna.
Washington, D.C.-based Principato has released 20-plus albums, his latest release, the 2013 Robert Johnson Told Me So (Powerhouse Records) may not have any Johnson material on it, but it carried on the tradition that began with his debut effort in 1984, Blazing Telecasters which was recorded with Gatton, who along with Atkins and Buchanan, was one of his primary influences.
Principato has worked with the likes of Geoff Maldaur, ex-Nighthawks guitarist Jimmy Thackery and Chuck Leavell.
Now in its 21st year, Greasy Tracks is the longest-running soul and blues program in the state and airs Saturday’s 3:30-5:30 p.m.