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Live At the Du Nord

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Album Review

Although a Telecaster virtuoso, Jim Campilongo often performed "cover nights" at San Francisco's hip, dimly lit Café Du Nord, playing the music of jazz greats such as Django Reinhardt and Duke Ellington. Live at Du Nord couldn't be more removed from one of those shows. While many live recordings try to reproduce the "live experience" with crowd noise and long improvisations, this one strives to demonstrate what it is that Campilongo does best. A lesson in Texas swing, this record mixes jazz, blues, and country, played simply and powerfully. An eight-minute cover of Western swing giant Leon McAuliffe's "Panhandle Rag" acts as a stamp of authenticity. Campilongo subtly conveys raw emotion and intensity in his guitar compositions, such as the darkly haunting "Do You Really Wanna Know?" With Rob Burger's (Tin Hat Trio) accordion adding a soulful gypsy feel to Campilongo's simple, essential melody, this country lament is one of the finest tracks on the album. Campilongo further proves his ability as a composer with the sweet, reserved genius of "Lipton Tea" and the plaintive country ballad "Molly Harvey." Other tracks, such as the ominous stripped-down blues of "Cat Under a Car," the deep, hard blues number "Mopey," and swamp blues rocker "Twister," showcase the skill of Campilongo and his band: Scott Amendola on drums, Jon Evans on bass, and Burger, as Campilongo introduces him, "on everything." On "Sweet Dreams," the melody is played slow, reserved, and understated, adding new emotion to the old standard. With only the occasional smattering of applause or Campilongo's soft "thank you" to betray its live status, this record stands as an original, definitive Campilongo effort.


Genre: Country

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Jim Campilongo was born and raised in San Francisco and began playing guitar in the mid-'70s, buying his first guitar with Green Stamps. His first teacher exposed him to a wide variety of music, but it was hearing Roy Buchanan that convinced him to make a living as a guitarist. By the early '90s, Campilongo was taking guitar students, in addition to playing with a variety of groups in a variety of styles. In 1990, one of those students gave him a 1959 Telecaster in exchange for some bass lessons...
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Live At the Du Nord, Jim Campilongo
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