Ed's blues influenced guitar masterpiece!
featuring many great solo guitar picking tunes a few terrific slide numbers and many surprises!
A track from this release is on Acoustic Guitar Highlights Vol. 5
is not about chops; it's about emotion and expression. But it
certainly helps if you've got the level of dexterity Ed Gerhard
exhibits here. His ability to execute seemingly whatever comes to
his mind is always at the service of conveying the myriad moods of the
with a technicolor palette." -- Dan Forte / Vintage Guitar Magazine
ACOUSTIC GUITAR MAGAZINE review
At first glance, the blues seems to impose strict stylistic and harmonic constraints on musicians, but within this framework is a limitless canvas for expressing every aspect of human behavior and emotion. On Sunnyland, fingerstyle virtuoso Ed Gerhard isn’t just “runnin’ down the road feelin’ awfully low”; he’s skipping down to the crossroads, kicking a can. With this joyful set of originals and country-blues and gospel covers, Gerhard steps outside the poetic, sonically pristine territory on which he built his reputation to embrace the messier-in-a-good-way, syncopated picking that first caught his ear as a kid—thumping bass, string buzz, and all. Sunnyland pays tribute to Mississippi John Hurt, Dave Van Ronk, Blind Willie McTell, and other seminal fingerstyle blues players, and Gerhard retains his unique ability to get to the heart of a song in an instant and say more with two or three notes than many players say with a hundred. His precise touch on Breedlove, Somogyi, Oahu, National, and Weissenborn guitars sounds effortless and musical. A gorgeous lap-steel rendition of “Amazing Grace” brings him within touching distance of sacred-steel icon Willie Eason, to whom Gerhard dedicates the cut. Sunnyland is a fresh and spirited effort that demonstrates the enduring power of the blues.
Ed Gerhard: Sunnyland (Solid Air 2057; 43:44) ***1/2 Through crisp, virtuosic fingerstyle guitar playing laced with feelings mainly centered on quiet jubilation, soloist Gerhard takes listeners to a special place in this collection of original blues and traditional gospel. The Grammy winner dedicates “Avalon Train” to Mississippi John Hurt and “Either Way She Walks” to Tampa Red, but he’s telling only his own lively stories on strings. Throughout the 14-song program, he receives high marks in tonal control, clarity, choice of tempo and creative use of open tuning
Guitar wizard Ed Gerhard turns his attention to the blues on Sunnyland (Solid Air 2057) , a fine collection of instrumentals with the warm, relaxed feel of a late summer evening. Gerhard coaxes a mellow tone from his instruments (mainly Martins), fingerpicking and sliding his way through a few spirituals, including “Amazing Grace” and “Just a Closer Walk with Thee,” and a raft of his own compositions that nod to originators Tampa Red, John Hurt and Blind Willie McTell, and revivalists Dave Van Ronk and Jorma Kaukonen. “Sunday Blues” features serpentine slide, “Sunnyland” a sprightly Southern melody; the sole contemporary-sounding piece, “Still Not Sorry You’re Gone,” has the feel, if not the form of the blues. Fans of acoustic music will appreciate these subtly masterful, heartfelt performances.
.......Blues Revue Aug/Sept '07
Ed Gerhard, "Sunnyland," Solid Air SACD 2057, 2006
Last year I heard Ed Gerhard perform "Still Not Sorry You're Gone", a
new composition he had just recorded for this CD. It was a quirky piece,
but fit perfectly with his concert staples, including "Tennessee",
"Duet", "The Water is Wide," and John Lennon's "Imagine". Sunnyland
presents 14 blues-flavored performances, doing so with greater variety
than one finds on most self-styled blues recordings these days. Gerhard
plays a variety of new and vintage acoustic and electric guitars,
sometimes multitracking them. He dedicates each of seven performances to
another musician, kicking things off with "Avalon Train", played in the
gentle spirit of Mississippi John Hurt. On "Avalon Train", "5 to 99",
"Still Not Sorry You're Gone", "Not Blind in Heaven", and other standout
tracks, Gerhard successfully melds traditional approaches with his own
approach, which includes pop influences, dissonance, and emotive chord
progressions. A few other selections could have come from the bouncy
Kicking Mule school of the 1970s, including "Sunnyland", (which Gerhard
might have easily dedicated to Taj Mahal), "Little Road" and "Sunday
Street Stroll", the latter of which effectively combines Dave Van Ronk's
fusion of early jazz and Piedmont guitar. Another rootsy tune, "Either
Way She Walks," shows how good a slide guitar duet can sound. Gerhard
displays his slide mastery on several other tracks, including "Just
Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes", "Night Owl Blues" and "Amazing
Grace." Sunnyland is a fully realized thematic work, it's recorded as
well as Gerhard's best earlier recordings and is fully satisfying. Buy
it -- and thank him that you can.
© Patrick Ragains
OC Register Nov 17, 2006
Ed Gerhard's "Sunnyland" draws from the
gospel and blues, and the 14 track disc boasts outstanding instrumental
guitar arrangements of 11 originals , as well as inventive arrangements
of "Amazing Grace" and several other standards.
Ed Gerhard “Sunnyland” 2007 Solid Air Records
Ed Gerhard is one of those inspiring guitarists who
knows to absorb a listener. On his newest CD “Sunnyland” Ed
Gerhard draws from a palette of gospel and blues music and his
11 own originals which have that intimate relaxed feeling and
fantastic ambiance he knows to create. He presents a variety
of styles from the fast “Little Road” to the moody bluesy “5 to 99”
and “Just Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes” on his lap steel
guitar. Touching and moving is “Not Blind to Heaven” an intimate
ballad which is a top-notch song with a beautiful melody line in
a catching and mysterious atmosphere.
Henk te Veldhuis
Bridge Guitar Reviews
*SunnyLand*, An Interview with Ed Gerhard.
Q: Wow, it's finally here! What took you so long? We've been hearing
rumors about the new record for quite some time!
A: Well, there were a lot of things that held me up, but mainly it just
took me awhile to get the record to hang together the way I wanted. I
wrote more tunes for this record than I have for any other record, and
the way I write is a long process. I get a whole bunch of stuff, then I
edit, consolidate and trim the stuff down so there's not a lot of
excess. That process takes me awhile, and at the end of the process you
have a tune that's not even three minutes long. Not very efficient, but
that's the way I work. I ended up dumping over half the record and
writing more tunes until I had the balance I wanted, and I wanted the
tunes to be as strong as possible.
Q: There's quite a variety of styles on the record. How did you approach
writing in so many styles, and how did you decide which ones to put on
A: Well, I never really thought of blues as being a single "style" of
music, to me it was more like a place where the music came from if that
makes any sense. You listen to any five of the early blues guys and you
hear five different approaches. There are some things musically that are
idiomatic across the board, but all those guys, for the most part, were
unique and original. They weren't playing blues per se, they were just
playing their stuff and it came out blues. I like all that stuff, from
guys like Blind Willie McTell to Mississippi John Hurt to Bo Carter to
Tampa Red and on and on. All those guys put something in me, some
musical nugget; not a lick or a tune, more like a vibe or feeling that
I've carried around. I feel like it's always been there in my playing
but I never really devoted much energy to playing in an idiomatic way,
so it may not be readily apparent when people hear my non blues stuff.
This answer getting long enough for ya?
Q: No, no, keep going.
A: OK. Anyhow, when I started writing the tunes I jumped around
"stylistically" I guess you could say. I wrote a couple of ragtime
things, some dark Delta things, a bunch of improvisational slide tunes,
just casting around for direction. Some of those early tunes were good
tunes I think, but in an academic sense. They were interesting and
idiomatically correct but I didn't feel like they were coming from me.
Those got tossed, but they led me to writing in a more personal way. I
didn't want to just jump around from style to style or imitate other
players, I wanted to have something personal coming through the music
Q: There are more uptempo pieces on here than usual. Do you approach
writing those tunes differently?
A: I spent a lot of time working with tempos, or "tempi" as it were. You
can say a lot in a tune just by it's very tempo, so I experimented quite
a lot with playing stuff faster or slower. Some tunes were slowed way
down from their original tempo, some were sped up a bit. The uptempo
tunes on "Sunnyland" are generally pretty positive and upbeat, like
"Little Road" for example. Play that one too fast and it loses a little
of the, for lack of a better word, "humor" in there. Too slow and you
keep wishing it was faster. "Avalon Train" was originally much faster,
but slowing it down gave it a completely new feel, one I hadn't even
been searching for. The tempo feels right, it's a train song but it
doesn't just barrel through.
Q: You have some songs here that are dedicated to different people like
Mississippi John Hurt and Blind Willie McTell but the tunes don't sound
like you're copping directly from them.
A: "Avalon Train" is the first tune on the record, the one I dedicate to
John Hurt. I wanted to play something that had some of the warmth that
he had without just playing his stuff back to him so to speak. The tune
was "for" him, not "from" him.
Q: So imitation isn't the sincerest form of flattery?
A: Maybe. I wanted to salute these guys and say here's a little
something I got from you, thank you, I promise to respect and love that
without just parroting it back. It wasn't about flattery, I think that
approach, for me anyway, would be pretty thin.
Q: What made you decide to do a blues record? It seems a bit of a
stretch for you.
A: It was suggested by James Jensen at Solid Air Records as a sort of
one-off, a side project for his label. I don't think of it as a stretch,
I've always played a little blues but it was a bit of a challenge coming
up with an entire album of blues stuff.
Q: I know that guitarists are probably curious about the guitars,
tunings and recording setup you used. Can you enlighten us?
A: Well, let's see; the primary guitar used on about 80% of the record
was a new Martin OM 18V.
Q: Not the Breedlove signature model?
A: No, I was looking for a different sound on this record. The
Breedloves are too nice in a way, too much sustain and clarity. I was
looking for a smaller, punchier sounding guitar without a whole lot of
sustain. I did use my Breedlove EG25 12 string on a couple of tunes.
That's a really great 12 string. Also used a Breedlove Atlas fretless
acoustic bass on one tune. That thing is cool. I finally got to record
with my old Martin D 18, which is the first good guitar I ever got. I
was fifteen when I got it. Beautiful recording guitar.
Q: Great. There are also a few lap steels on the record, both acoustic
A: Yeah, I really love steel guitar and I have a small stash of some
really nice ones. I used a '54 National Dynamic on two of the tunes,
"Amazing Grace" and "Still Not Sorry You're Gone." On "Still Not Sorry"
I plugged into a THD Univalve amp and mic'ed it with a Shure SM57. That
little amp is just badass, I really love it. All my steels sound just
great through it, they all retain their individual character. I used a
Weissenborn Style 2 on "Either Way She Walks." I have two Style 1's and
a Style 2, and the Style 2 seemed like the right one for that tune. It's
much quieter than the other two, but it records very smooth.
Q: "Just Can't Keep From Crying Sometimes," that's originally from your
"House of Guitars" record?
A: Yeah, I went back and remixed it a little. There's more cumbus, which
is a Turkish banjo-like instrument, on the head and tail of the track. A
really cool sounding instrument. This mix is a little deeper and clearer
than the "House of Guitars" mix, but I like them both. The main slide
guitar is a little Oahu OO size guitar that is only playable with a
slide. The neck is bowed, the action is ridiculous and the fret ends
will slice you up if you're not careful. I considered wearing a leather
glove on my left hand, but hey, it is the blues after all. I do remember
getting a little nick or two. I'm givin' 110 for the peeps.
Q: How did you record, what microphones, etc.?
A: I recorded into the PARIS hard disk system I've been using for a long
time now. The mics were usually Neumann KM 140's, XY pattern. I don't
generally use XY much, but it seemed right for this record. Sometimes
I'd use a Neumann KM 84 in place of one of the 140's just to give a
little bit of heft to the guitar. I occasionally used a Neumann TLM 193,
too. That sounds great on the Breedlove bass with a little DI mixed in.
The 193 has a beautiful smooth sound and the low end is deep, clear and
tight. Most everything went through a Neve/Brent Averill 1272 mic pre
straight into PARIS, all 24 bit.
Q: It doesn't have a "digital" sound to it, the record has a warm analog
feel to it.
A: Thanks, I think a lot of that just has to do with how I played the
stuff, and not tweaking EQ's endlessly. I tried to use the natural
sounds of my room and the instruments as much as possible. I'd add some
reverb here and there, but it was incorporated into the room sound for
the most part. My room sounds great for guitar. The Neumanns hear
EVERYTHING, so I had to be careful not to get too much room sound, but I
was able to get some of it in there without causing too many phase, EQ
and resonance problems. And PARIS sounds really round and warm at 24
bits, I think it does sound a bit "analog." Analog is the right sound
for this record, nice and round.