I first met Jim Campilongo in San Francisco, where he was wielding a Strat, using a Boss Metal Zone pedal, and playing soaring rock solos with a funk/rock band. I watched him morph, first into a burning country Tele player, and then into themore personal Jimmy Bryant meet Thelonious Monk master that brought him gigs with Nora Jones and Martha Wainwright. These days he regularly holds court with his trio in lower Manhattan. His ability to wrest a plethora of sounds out of a Telecaster plugged straight into a Fender Princeton, combined with a unique playing style and brilliant compositions has garnered him the respect of many much better known guitarists. Among them is Nels Cline, another transplant from the West Coast. Campilongo joined Cline during his Stone residency last summer and Nels apparently returned the favor last month at the former San Francisco guitarist’s Rockwood residency.
I love Nels and like Wilco. I think Wilco’s best work was actually prior to Nels joining the band. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is arguably their strongest album.
For people who haven’t heard Nels in other (rock support) roles check out his work on Mike Watt’s Contemplating the Engine Room or The Geraldine Fibbers’ Butch. Both cds are wonderful and truly show what a wonderful addition Nels is.
Thanks so much for posting this. I dig Jim Campilongo and Nels is my number one hero. His inventiveness is inexhaustible.
His addition to Wilco has been brilliant. Nels was perfect for how the band’s sound was evolving and it was an inspired choice by Jeff Tweedy.
However, I must slightly quibble with the dismissive tone regarding pre-Nels Wilco. They were not as experimental but they were a killer rock band with a country tinge from the very beginning, with great songs. The late Jay Bennett deserves respect as a multi-instrumentalist and as a great guitarist and steel player. Just my opinions, of course.
As always – you’ve zoned right in on the good stuff. Nels is always worth watching. I had no interest in Wilco until he joined. He played a set at London’s Vortex with Tim Berne a couple of years ago that was out of this world. And now I know about Jim C – superb stuff. Thanks!
Thanks Chris. I agree about Wilco. I give credit to Tweedy for hiring him and their music has improved geometrically.
Every time I’m at Rockwood Jim and Nels are on the bill and I ALWAYS stop in to see them play. I’ve been going to see Jim in NYC as far back as his Baby Jupiter residency. I’ve only known him a Tele man so you can imagine my the depth of my jaw drop reading about a Strat and Metal Zone associated in any way with Jim Campilongo. That’s nuts!!