Author Archives: Michael Dregni

Furry Lewis, Sleepy John Estes, Mud Boy and the Neutrons, and more

Beale Street Saturday Night

These days, Memphis’ Beale Street is a blues-lover’s Disneyland in all the worst ways. It’s been sanitized and sanctified, then thoroughly commercialized. Once upon a time, however, it was the “home of the blues,” as Memphis was officially – if somewhat dubiously – (more…)

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Heil Talk Box


When Peter Frampton began using the Heil Talk Box in 1974, he remembers it being viewed with skepticism as an “alien effect.” Similar contraptions had been around since 1939, but few people recognized them or their otherworldly capabilities. Frampton had yet to record with it, so when he used it onstage, it caused a furor. […]

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Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams

Multi-instrumentalist Larry Campbell is the consummate hired gun. He picked his licks as part of Bob Dylan’s eight-year-long Never Ending Tour, led the Levon Helm Band’s Midnight Rambles, and served as a sideman with Sheryl Crow, Paul Simon, and many (more…)

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The Cash Box Kings

Holding Court
Blues Mission

The Cash Box Kings are on a mission. This hard-working ensemble is committed to keeping the spirit of 1940s and ’50s Chicago blues alive and well. Their style and sound is gloriously retro, with an inspiring eloquence and grace to their (more…)

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Cry, Baby!

The Story of the Vox Wah

Beyond being crowned “Album of the Century” by Time magazine, Marley and the Wailers’ 1977 LP Exodus is a wah-wah masterpiece thanks to Junior Marvin and his Thomas Organ Cry Baby. Others – from Earl Hooker to Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa to Sly Stone – made their mark with the pedal, but never has (more…)

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Maestro Fuzz-Tone


Fuzz. It’s the sound of fury, aggravation, indignation, and – considering the history of the most famous fuzzbox of all time, Maestro’s Fuzz-Tone – dissatisfaction. It’s also fitting as some of the first recorded electric fuzz guitar was heard via Howlin’ Wolf guitarist Willie Lee Johnson, (more…)

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Steve Cropper

Homage to Lowman Pauling

All but forgotten today, with his low-slung guitar, stylish rhythm licks, and tasty leads, Lowman Pauling was one of the great guitar heroes of the ’50s. Guitarist for the R&B doo-wop band the 5 Royales, not only did Pauling pick melody lines and play leads, (more…)

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ToneTron’s Billy-Rocker

Best Amp You've Never Heard of

ToneTron’s Billy-Rocker Price: $1,200 Info: www.tonetroamps.com. On a quiet residential street in Minneapolis lives a mad scientist. Erstwhile rockabilly guitarist Jeffrey Falla is the brains behind ToneTron. And from his laboratory come some of the best-sounding amps you’ve never heard of. Falla began modifying and (more…)

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Tom Feldmann

No Need to Sell Your Soul

“And the Oscar goes to…” If they gave out Academy Awards for the best guitar instructional film, Tom Feldmann’s latest on Robert Johnson would be a shoe-in. We rarely review instructional videos, but this one is something special. And it’s more than just a how-to guide: it’s an in-depth, (more…)

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Lotus Pedal Designs’ Snowjob Underdrive

Love That Yellow Snow
Lotus Pedal Designs’ Snowjob Underdrive

Lotus Pedal Designs’ Snowjob Underdrive Price: $149 Contact: www.lotuspedaldesigns.com You may be wondering, “What in the world is an ‘underdrive’ pedal?” Good question. Well, you know the traffic-jam of overdrive pedals you likely have crowding around your amp, all designed to push it (more…)

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