Slack-Key Meets Blues Guitar

The March 31 edition of Greasy Tracks featured interviews with and the music of guitarists of Stephen Inglis and Scott Sharrard who bring vastly different fret work to the fore in a program that was probably a first for slack-key-meets-blues-guitar stylings.

To listen to an archive of the program, click here and go here for the playlist.

Will Zappa Be Next?: Slack key guitarist Stephen Inglis just released a collection of Grateful Dead covers following his adaptation of Bob Dylan songs in 2010 on Slackin' On Dylan.

Will Zappa Be Next?: Slack-key guitarist Stephen Inglis just released a collection of Grateful Dead covers following his adaptation of Bob Dylan songs in 2010 on Slackin’ On Dylan.

Hawaii-based Inglis just released his 10th album, Cut The Dead Some Slack (Rhythm & Roots). While perhaps as an audacious a project as his 2010 Slackin’ On Dylan (ʻAumakua Records),  Inglis takes an interesting dip into the Grateful Dead songbook, encompassing 13 studio tracks and a trio of lengthy live offerings, running the gamut from the psychedelic chestnut “Dark Star” to a number of beloved ballads such as “Stella Blue,” “Brokedown Palace,” “Ship of Fools” and “It Must Have Been The Roses” and some traditional rocking set openers like “Bertha” and “Scarlet Begonias.”

The instrument traces its introduction to Hawaiian Islands to the early-1800s when Mexican cowboys — hired by King Kamehameha III to teach Hawaiians how to rope and herd cattle — brought guitars that would ultimately be left with the hosts when they returned to the mainland several years later.

Unlike the traditional electric or acoustic guitar, slack key is a fingerstyle guitar with open tunings where one or more strings are essentially “detuned” to produce a variety of tunings in different keys.

Goin' Solo: Scott Sharrard spent nine years playing guitar with Gregg Allman, but now focuses on leading a power trio. (Lou Montesano photo)

Goin’ Solo: Scott Sharrard spent nine years playing guitar with Gregg Allman, but now focuses on leading a power trio. (Lou Montesano photo)

Grammy nominee Sharrard, who leads a trio featuring bassist Brett Bass and drummer Eric Kalb on April 14 at Bridge Street Live with Danny Mayer and Mary Corso in support, recently participated in the extended Gregg Allman feature on WRTC.

Sharrard played guitar and was music director in Allman’s band for nearly nine years. His fifth solo album, Saving Grace, is due out this fall. Much of it was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., and included two legends who made their mark as part of the famed Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section – best known as The Swampers – keyboardist Spooner Oldham and bassist David Hood.

It was during the FAME sessions that Sharrard used the 1957 Goldtop Les Paul once owned by Duane Allman who made a name for himself as an in-demand session player in the 1960s in Alabama. It was the first time the guitar had been used at FAME since Duane Allman played it there.

A number of tracks were also recorded in Memphis, Tenn., where Sharrard was joined by core members of the famed Hi Rhythm Section, including drummer Howard Grimes, keyboardist Charles Hodges and bassist Leroy Hodges who backed Al Green and Ann Peebles on their greatest recordings at Willie Mitchell’s Royal Studios.

Now in its 24th year, Greasy Tracks is the longest-running soul/blues program in Connecticut.

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