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How Did You First Discover Jim Campilongo?
  • I was rehearsing a few songs with a musician I was going to be playing with. She wanted me to improvise a lead over one of her newer songs. I was playing a Jazzmaster and using the whammy bar to bend up to certain notes in the lead. Kind of immitating that lick from the Chris Isaak tune, "Wicked Games".

    When we were finished we hung out and talked music for a while. She said, "if you like 'bending notes' then you might like Jim Campilongo" (which I still laugh at because its such a simplification but I know what she meant at the time). I wrote his name down and looked at my list a few days later when I had time to do a few Google searches. I went to a few Living Room shows and was totally stunned. "The rest" as they say ,"is History".

    .....I never ended up playing with the musician but it was totally worth it to get turned on to Jim's amazing talent and body of work.
  • About 1999 or so I bought a Tele and discovered the Telecaster Discussion Board (now the TDPRI) and Jim was posting there. I bought the Ten Gallon Cats CDs and loved them. I discovered he was local, so I went to one of his gigs, and asked if he gave lessons, and took lessons for a year or so, then he left for New York, and, to quote, "The rest is History". The lessons were great, I still have the recordings of them - back then you brought a cassette tape and he taped the lessons so he could keep things moving.
  • in 2003, Campilongo was coming to Finland to play at a country-side festival called Jämsession. A fellow TPRI.com member here in Helsinki (Finland) had a summer place near there and asked me to join the gig. Well, it was 4h train ride away and I had never met this guy from Helsinki, but well, why not. I did try to learn some blues licks from a Keith Wyatt book that morning (as I realized at the venue Keith Wyatt was in the audience, so I talked with him about it), and listen to some live clips from Campilongo's website. That's some weird shit, I thought. But sounded like a nice trip to this small town I had never been to. Booked a B&B room there and off I went on the train.

    One hour away from the town (Jämsä), the guy called his wife had just left him (and their kids) and he was in no condition to go to the concert. So I was alone. The concert was outside of town, practically on and surrounded by a perfectly still lake. The weather was perfect. A blues band with Keith Wyatt on lead had just finished. There were some other blues bands, like a very good 40s style jump blues outfit from Sweden. Some blues rock guy from NY playing a strat (even trying to mimic Jim (he said so on stage)), not my kinda thing. I think there were like 6 or 7 bands in total... and an audience of like 150 max having a picnic at a lawn in sunny summer weather.

    Well, Jim Campilongo hit me like nothing ever had. Man this was something else! There were about 20 people up front, and I was there first row and center. That was what I had come for you.

    I remember talking with his friend who is behind the Klon Centaur overdrive, well, about overdrive pedals, for like an hour. Thanks to him for that, I don't really know anything about pedals, still don't, but it was nice to have a chat with somebody.

    I left after that, as for me, Jim had cleared the stage with his performance. Nothing was to sound any good after that.

    That's it. Have seen him play each time his been here, afaik. I don't how many times that is. Have had all the CDs signed, and even did an interview for the local blues mag once. Oh, and have played the '59 once, and he played my toploader Chinese tele, and said "well, it sounds the same, doesn't it". It didn't, mine sounded a lot fuller, less twangy. Jim also signed it at the back (where strings come through on a regular tele) "Approved, Jim Campilongo".

    In 2004 we went to see him here in Helsinki, with guy who couldn't make it in 2003. That night he met his current wife. The year after, they both came to the JC show. :)

  • There was something I read in Guitar Player Magazine. It said something like, "The missing link between Jimmy Bryant and Roy Buchanan". With a plug like that I had to check the guy out. I went down to San Francisco to this place called the Paradise Lounge where he played every Thursday night, I think it was. It's a pretty tall order to be included with Jimmy Bryant and Roy Buchanan so I was really skeptical. I never heard none a Jim's music anywhere on tapes or records........nuthin. My friend Garfield Kincross who was known as "Pee Wee" at the time had coincidentally won tickets in a contest on KPFA radio to see and hear this "Campilongo" guy on the same night I was headed there. So I went down there to Frisco n me n "Pee Wee" n this other guy was a settin there.....n Jim starts to playin his guitar with the "Ten Gallon Cats".....n I was truly amazed. I ain't never seen or heard nuthin like that before in my whole entire life. The sound n emotion comin from that guy n his guitar was Like goin to a Rod Serling version of heaven. He is the missing link and much more. It was really, really good. So I started goin there every week. N it's a good thing I did......cuz he moved to New York City after a couple a years n I can't go hear him no more..........and I really miss him and the guitar playin. There is nobody like that guy. There's lots a good players........but nobody like that Jim Campilongo. He communicates on every level with that GREAT guitar a his, n I know there is only one guitar like his in the whole world. To see and hear him in a small place that's kinda a like a upscale, big city, honky tonk, dive........is ineffable. N the stuff he does in between songs is just as good as the guitar playin.
    Back in those days I was addicted to cigarettes. I run outta smokes one night n during a break I seen he was smokin Camels. So's I tried to buy a cigarette from him fore 25 cents. He would not sell it to me, ........he give me one. That Campilongo is just as good a guy as he is a guitar player.
  • Heard a Little Willies tune on KPIG. Ran out and bought the disc. Checked the credits to see who the guitarist was. Looked him up online and started collecting albums, lessons etc. Turned out that he was a regular on a guitar forum I frequent (TDPRI) and came across as a really nice guy. I've been a huge fan ever since.
  • A couple of nightclub deals had gone south on me in the space of a lunch hour. Thirsty and blue, I went into a soda fountain on Sunset to wet my whistle and collect what was left of my thoughts. Manny poured me a tall cold one, and it was doing enough of the trick to fool me into thinking I could keep making the same old choices, keep betting on the same old nags, when, at the end of the bar, I heard this scrufty kid in overalls, humming. It was a pretty tune, spare and elegant, like I like 'em. I was just about to close my eyes and fade into his song when the little warbler grabs himself behind the neck and starts bending the tune all the way to heaven. I guess they call it an epiphany, but whatever it was, I ran into the phone booth, cancelled my meeting with the goat hypnotist, paid both our tabs and got the kid to the nearest haberdasher I could find. We filled his tank with jackets and ascots. He was so happy. You should have seen him. It was like the day you find out you don't ever have to go to Sunday school again. But, in his excitement, he couldn't stop his hands from twitching. So I came up with the idea of sticking something in them. My cousin Sid had left this old guitar in my closet when he amscrayed on the wife and kids for a hat-check girl in Bakersfield. In an hour, the kid was playing Stardust. You know the story from there.
  • Jim had a column in Guitar Player magazine and one of the lessons was something along the lines of alternate ways of comping on blues progressions. I remember he suggested playing only the tritones and avoiding the root. I still use it.

    So I went looking for his stuff and the first song I heard was his cover of "Folsom Prison Blues" and I was hooked. I don't think at the time I really understood everything he was doing. To me it sounded like he was rubbing the guitar against concrete. Amazing. By the way, I still don't understand.

    So I got the album "Heavy" and some of the other earlier stuff and subsequent albums too. However, he again blew my mind when I heard The Little Willies. The solos in "I Gotta Get Drunk" are face-melters, but how he accompanies and adds color in "I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive" and "It's Not You, It's Me" were much cooler to me. That album spent 2 years in my car. I rediscovered Campilongo.

    Then I did so again with "Orange", an album that is still in my car since the day it came out. This time it prompted me to buy my first Telecaster, after being a sworn Strat Man, followed by a Princeton Reverb.

    Last month I finally got to see him play his gig at The Living Room. Which, was a highlight of my career as a musician and a consummate fan of everything guitar. Being a Caribbean/Island person, all of our culture is imported and we don't "bump" into famous people, so I was kind of nervous. It was with great delight that I noticed Jim's humbled look when I showed him his signature I bought that afternoon. I think he was happier to see it than I was for buying it. I rediscovered Campilongo again.

    In conclusion, if Campilongo switches to the trombone as he is implying, I will be buying that album too and maybe discover something new.
  • Here's a link to an interview I did with Jim last year- the first couple of paragraphs explain how I became aware of him. I still think of that silly cat often!


    Thanks again for the interview Jim. Still my favorite interview that I've done yet!
  • That was a great read!
  • I first discovered Jim around 1997. I was living in Columbia South Carolina and as later found out only blocks away from Hank Garland! Anyway, at the time I was very much into the country jazz bag and I was playing in a country/punk band. Well, I use to go to the library often and read through Guitar Player Magazine. One day I began reading a lesson article by Jim and quickly realized that here was a guy playing exactly the style I had in mind. So, I began to investigate him some more, purchased his first cd and continued to followed his lessons in GP (I still use a lot stuff from those articles even today). Not long after, my girl friend, who was getting into the music biz asked me if I wanted to go to South by Southwest in the spring of 1998. After we arrived and while we were in our hotel room getting ready to go I was looking over the list of artist playing and much to suprise Jim was playing that night. COOL! Well, that night I saw the Ten Gallon Cats with Joe Goldmark. I think they opened for Kim Richey (by the way her guitar player at the time was Kenny Vaughn) After the show my girl friend got us back stage and I met JIm. I told him who I was and where I was from and then told him I was big fan. He could'nt believe that I even new who in the hell he was. Years later I read an online article and he talked about meeting people that knew who was outside of the San Francisco area. I liked to think I was one of those people.
  • I was listening to Christmas music on Rhapsody and stumbled onto his Christmas CD. That version of Jingle Bells kills!
  • Hi everyone. This is my first post. I thought this thread would be a good place to start.
    I first heard Jim on the Little Willies album. In my place of work the sound system was always playing 'Roll On' which I had assumed was a Norah Jones solo song. I loved the song so much I did some research and found the album. I had no idea the guitar would even feature as much on the album as it did (does). Anyway I've been playing guitar for 20 years and just when I thought no one other than Jeff Beck had an original style anymore I hear the licks in 'Roly Poly" and I thought 'who is this maniac?'
    I started buying Jim's albums after that and finding all these blurry videos on Youtube from the 10 Gallon Cats days. Anyone I spoke to had never heard of him. I was so happy when I saw him in the Princeton video.
    I'm pretty sure Jim sold 99% of the RI Princetons out there... mine included.
    I also ordered a lesson from Jim direct and conversed by email. Seemed like a great guy. A musician's musician.
  • The Fender princeton reissue add on Facetube was my first.
    Usually it's crap like "Highway one, made to trow in the back of your truck!" or "G-dec, you can bury it,and it still sounds good!". I was looking for reviews on the princeton becauwe i saw one in a shop, and i was thinking that this might be my thing. That add got me both on the princeton and Jim.
  • I first heard about Jim through the interview on Justin Sandercoe's website. I found Jim's playing style, tone and (most importantly) his open and honest approach to guitar extremely refreshing. He not only knew exactly what he was talking about but was so down to earth in his way of explaining it. I went on to check out 'Orange' and then subsequently bought two lessons (Awful Pretty, Pretty Awful & When you wish upon a star), put my Jackson SL3 in its case, hid it away in the cupboard and bought myself a Tele. Easily the best musical decision I've made. Thank you Jim!
  • The Little Willies for me. I think I had seen Jim's name tossed about a bit on the TDPRI, but when I bought the Little Willie's record ('cause I'm IN LOVE with Norah's voice), I said "who in the hell is playing that amazing guitar?!?"... and found out it was Jim. Started buying his records right then... don't have 'em all yet, but just a matter of time. And I can't wait for the new Willie's record.
  • There was a Princeton Reverb in orange at the guitar shop I work in... I plugged it in... 'Hmmm,' I thought, 'this amp is nice'... I went home and did some research, typed Fender Princeton Reverb Reissue into youtube... this came up...

    'Hmmm,' I thought, 'that amps is GREAT! And who is that guy playing?'

    Thanks to the wonder of spotify and itunes, I managed to get hold of some albums, starting with Orange...

    And I bought the amp...
  • what song does he play@ 5:30 sound familiar?
  • Hello Donald077,

    The song is 1958's "Rebel Rouser" played by the highly influential Duane Eddy. Timeless and irresistible!

  • thanks for the info!
  • Little Willies. I thought "WHO IS PLAYING THAT GUITAR?!?!?", looked it up, found out about Jim, saw he played a tele, headed over the TDPRI to dig up info, the rest is history!
  • I ran into Jim via the video advert made for the 65 Princeton Reverb Reissue amp. I was floored by the sounds he was able to get, so of course I searched his name on youtube and watched a few other performances. This lead me to searching for his music using iTunes. I'm still floored by how engaging his music is.
  • TPDRI was my in.
  • Another TDPRI'er here. Been a fan of Jim's for sometime now, I first ran into him in a Guitar Player rag, can't find it at the moment! Now I'm really jazzed about starting up with some lessons. You know how sometimes you need a kick-start when you reach a plateau of sameness? Jim has been my most recent kick-start :) Only thing is that since I moved out of the Bay Area and up north a bit, I fear my chances of seeing Jim live are getting worse.
  • Welcome Andy! - Thanks for joining the forum
  • Here I was 50 and still moaning about the fact that I didn't learn to play guitar when I was young. My wife decided to give me guitar lessons for
    my birthday and found Jim's number under Guitar Lessons on a bulletin board at the local music store. She made the arrangements with Jim and all I had to do was show up. I would take lessons in his house in Brisbane in Northern California until he decided to move to NYC. I would go to as many of his local gigs as possible to witness one of the great Telecaster players of all time and to think I was taking lessons from him. Today, I continue to take lessons from one his more talented pupils, Nils Erickson, and to this day I always refer to Jim's "early lessons" as I continue to learn to play. My wife and I often joke about how it all went down- Just a phone number on a wall. Thank you Jim for the memories. John Casado
  • Music is magic, isn't it John? And here we are, still good friends...
  • That's a fantastic story John and Jim :)
  • I heard cuts off of the first Ten Gallon Cats album on KPFA and encouraged the indie record stores in Sonoma County to carry the album. Then I saw Mental Revenge at the Twin Oaks and had a great conversation with Jim re: music & movies. I've been a big fan ever since...
  • Little Willies for me...
  • Went and saw Jim play at the Paradise Lounge in S.F. where he did a weekly Thursday night gig after reading a review in one of the local papers. Great gigs. Went to a bunch of em.

    I kept thinking "man, how come my tele doesn't sound like that and I want to be able to play some of that stuff" . I ended up taking lessons for quite a while and learned a ton of stuff although I still can't make my tele sound like that and I still can't play like that. :) so it goes.

    I got a lot out of those lessons. I really like the way Jim breaks down more chordy tunes to their essential parts first before adding all the color chords and stuff. Makes it much easier to see what's really going on with a tune. I've had lessons from some serious jazz players where they'd start off with a gazillion chord family substitutions etc. etc. etc. and my head would just spin.

  • My wife and I received an external harddrive for xmas... Later, we plugged it in to discover that the giver had filled the drive with several thousand records (albums, whatever... mp3's). Campilongo's "American" album was one of them. The single best find on that harddrive, no doubt.
  • A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I played a few gigs with Jim in a band called "Country Breeze" his (Cousin?, Uncle?) Blue Lou played accordion in the band, Jim would drive down from the City to sit in at the Italian American Club in Menlo Park(?) If I remember correctly. The band was fairly rough sounding but made a turn for the better when Jim was there. We got a steak and pasta dinner and a few bucks for the evening. Jim I am really digging the music your making these days. Keep on keepin' on.
    (the left handed drummer)
  • Used to go see Jim play at various places in San Francisco throughout the 90's when I lived there. The first time I saw him there were only maybe 6 people in the audience. I remember feeling it was criminal that he wasn't playing to a packed house of 4000.
  • 1996....wandering the streets....south of Market, SF....in search of good music and misadventure...I heard the amazing sounds of Jim's tele sweetly-screeching from the upstairs window of the Paradise lounge...sweet-screeches turned to melodious-moaning.....I stumbled upstairs, and there he stood smoking that ax of the likes I'd never seen before....tho' maybe heard years before as a young-un turned onto Roy Buchanon wondering "wheres the singin"?....it took me a long time to realize the song-of-the-tele, until I purchased my own in 93'....and upon introducing myself to Jim and asking "HOW-DO-YOU-DO-THAT" He suavely pulled out his card, and kindly stated, "I can show you".....and he did! Great guy, and my favorite picker indeed!
  • Like bobbymack above, The Little Willies...
  • New to this forum, another TDPRI transplant (TDPRI is starting to get a bit long in the tooth for me).
    I saw a review of Jim's CD with the Ten Gallon Cats in a GP issue years ago and was smitten and have been since then. His skills are off the charts and his personality comes through in all his interaction with his fans and followers, this impressed me greatly.

    BTW, thanks for that Duane Eddy link, I was sitting very near where that camera was for Deke's show that night.

    John S.
  • In 1989 or 1990 I was playing in a band in SF. We were an African rock band and had no guitar player. A member of the band knew Jim and he came to one of our rehearsals. He was playing, I believe, a Sea foam green Strat. We went through a few songs and he was going to do a gig with us but got a paying gig and couldn't make it.

    I mentioned this to him once and I don't think he remembered playing with us but I did, and so did the other members of the band.
  • Saw his name mentioned more than often on the TDPRI boards and clicked on a video link someone had posted. I was floored. Still am. I decided then and there I had to learn how to play and went out to buy a Tele.
  • Around American Hips release, I heard interesting record playing in a cafe. I asked what was it and with coffee-to-go I walked to record store near by to get American Hips. And after that I quite soon ordered every other Campy records too..
  • I discovered Jim the way many other people have. The Fender Princeton You Tube clip.
    I was looking for an amp at the time so I was doing a lot of research. I thought I was going to get a Blues Jnr but I couldn't find one to try out. I tried all the amps I could find for home use but I couldn't get excited about any of them. That is until I tried a DRRI but that seemed a little too loud for my little terraced house. Fortunately on a trip to nearby Brighton(UK) I found a PRRI and my search was over. It really was everything I wanted.
    I've ended up buying all of Jim's CDs that I can find and a few lessons too. The lessons have been great and I really feel like they have improved me as a player. Jim's teaching method seems to suit me.
    A lot of good things have come from that You Tube video.
    Nice one Jim!
  • I was searching information about Princeton Reverb Reissue and I discovered the famous demo by Jim.
    I was amazed by the sound, the feeling, the technique... After that, I googled Jim and found several things about him. It always nice to find that great men are so generous and simple as Jim is.

  • I was looking to buy a new guitar from the Custom Shop and happened on the JC signature Tele. This prompted the question: who is this guy? A few YouTube clips later and I was convinced. Still haven't got the Tele though.
  • Dear All,

    first, greetings from the "Eastern Block". This thing started quite a long ago - back in the '80-s a small introverted kid discovered a guitar player who had muscles and a Telecaster (well, Esquire as I learned later). But a Telecaster was impossible to get, so my first guitar was a Czech copy (quite bad so I still can't play above the 12th fret...). Anyway. In the January '97 copy of Guitar Player I saw a guy with a Telecaster (and long hair...) - somehow his name stuck in my mind. Fast forward 15 years - quit playing guitar, raise a family... then suddenly I realized I miss the fretboard and could afford a Tele now as I have a steady job and a roof over the family. A local ad accidentally - Squier Affinity tele, a toploader, which rings a bell... Quick search for "Campilongo" - and I'm here. Jim, THANKS for the inspiration for my renewed love with the guitar!
    Szabi Nagy, Hungary
  • Hi Szabi - and hello "Eastern Block"!!! Music has no borders ... Thanks for posting... -Jim
  • I had heard of Jim Campilongo but to be honest I never really knew who he was. To the extent that I had seen a couple videos of him in the Little Willies and did not realize that was the same guy...That all changed a couple years ago when I went to see a few Jon Graboff Pedal Steel Band shows at Rockwood Music Hall in New York. Turns out one night (November 13, 2010) Jim Campilongo was the guitar player and I happened to attend that night. This was my favorite show of the residency, as Jim, Jon, and the rest of the band absolutely destroyed the place. Jon Graboff later told me someone recorded the show for him, but I have never heard another thing about that recording. I must say, the show is very worthy of circulation among the live music community if it is not already out there.

    Since that night, I have seen Jim play with his Trio all around New York and Brooklyn. I have also seen the High Space lineup but have yet to see the Quartet play Jim's songs. I had tickets to the Little Willies shows last fall but had to skip them, unfortunately. One night at the Living Room, a mutual friend introduced me to Jim. It was quick and he had his hands full but he was very cool and seemed pretty happy cause the place was packed. Jim also plays a Duo with Adam Levy which I have yet to catch. I live an hour out of the city and work a day job during the week so I can't go out all time. But when I find myself at his shows on Monday nights (and some Wednesdays), his guitar playing always blows my mind. I saw Jim with High Space at Brooklyn Bowl a few weeks ago and it was super nasty! Tony Mason plays in Jim's band and he is my favorite drummer. cheers
  • What a fun and informative board! I can't remember exactly when I got into Jim's music, but I do remember that in the '90s, the more time I spent in front of computers and being inundated with technology on the radio, the more I looked for players who played live-sounding music with no effects. Now that I think about it, I also got into reading books about the '50-'70s -- Raymond Chandler, John D. MacDonald. Jim's music fits right in there.
  • Some years ago I tried to find information on the internet about Jimmy Bryant and one of the few results that showed up was Jim Campilongo's website! So I found out that he was a Tele Player too. This was before Youtube. Several years later I found Jim's Fender Princeton Reverb video and that did it for me. It was simply the most fascinating playing I had heard from a contemporary player. I instantly knew that I had to get all his albums and learn from his lessons. I even flew to New York to see his Orange CD release party. And I learned to play without any effect pedals again. Thanks for being such a great inspiration!
  • ^^ that's great Telecaster!

    I am pretty sure for me it was his Guitar Player column. guessing around '99? but I could be wrong. I went right off and bought "Loose" which was his new release. been a fan ever since.
  • For me I heard Jim's name mentioned in fender ads, guitar mags, etc. And it was always in tandem with the mention of teles or princetons. Sooner or later I had to see what he was all about, found "Blues For Roy" on YouTube, and the rest is history. He is the first guitar-music guy whose playing I instantly identified with (big Robbie Robertson fan here, also discovered thru Campy research that Robbie was mentored by Roy Buchanan, who I found out about just before getting into JC! ) Jim, please try and come out to Vancouver or Victoria sometime! We love ya in the Canadian pacific northwest! !!
  • I read about Jim in one of the guitar magazines years ago. I bought everything I could get my hands on after listening to the 10 gallon cats CD. Looking forward to the new Honey Fingers recording. I got the opportunity to visit New York and made it out to one of his Living Room gigs. Orange was just released so I picked up some posters which everyone graciously signed. Jim immediately recognized me as a guitar geek because I was transfixed by the beautiful music and sat at one of the front tables. He was extremely gracious and answered all my guitar geek questions. One of the best music nights of my life!

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