The Sultans of Slide

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In the late 1970’s, the short-lived Blues Ball record label released a compilation of tough Chicago blues featuring some of the greatest slide guitarists that the Windy City ever produced, including Robert Nighthawk, Johnny Littlejohn and Hound Dog Taylor. The title of the album, “Sultans of Slide Guitar”, captured Franck Goldwasser’s imagination. Goldwasser, an art student and passionate blues guitar devotee from Paris, France, took notice and proceeded to pour his heart and soul into this music which was to become his life’s work.

In 1983 Goldwasser dropped out of art school and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to pursue his musical aspirations. Having received the stage name "Paris Slim" from Oakland musician/club owner Troyce Key, Goldwasser spent the next twenty-five years playing and recording under his own name and as a backup guitarist for some of the most prestigious names in contemporary blues, including Percy Mayfied, Big Mama Thornton and Charlie Musselwhite. Positive response from Rose City audiences over the years convinced Paris Slim to move to Portland in 2005. With a strong live music scene and residents such as Paul Delay, Curtis Salgado and Lloyd Jones, Portland could boast of being a towering center of blues music in the United States. While Delay, Salgado and Jones each have enjoyed worldwide exposure, Portland still keeps many hidden treasures within the ranks of its blues aristocracy.

Early in 2010, Franck Goldwasser began to work on a concept for a show. As a kind of an answer to the numerous “Harmonica Blowouts” popping up across the country, Goldwasser thought of gathering some of Portland’s best slide guitarists for an explosive night of blues at one of the city’s best loved venues, Duff’s Garage. For the name of the event, Franck remembered the title of one of his all time favorite LPs: Sultans Of Slide Guitar. The artists recruited for the event included Big Monti Amundson, Ben Bonham, Bob Shoemaker and Jim Mesi. An unprecedented success, the event was booked at other venues in the Pacific Northwest and continued to feature a rotating cast of frontmen. Big Monti Amundson, who played the majority of the shows, began to ponder the potential of the concept of a steady lineup for the show, and proposed to include another Portland blues stalwart, Henry Cooper, as a permanent member. The Sultans of Slide were born.

Since the early stages of its existence, it has been obvious to all that the chemistry between Amundson, Cooper and Goldwasser is nothing short of spectacular. While the three share a profound and limitless love for the blues, each complements the other with his own singular and unique approach to the music.

Amundson, a Seattle native who has called Portland home since 1987, is a Pacific Northwest rock and blues institution by any standard. A prolific songwriter, Monti blends elements from the styles of Johnny Winter, Jimi Hendrix and Billy Gibbons into a guitar style that is resolutely his own, a lyrical and muscular voice that is a natural complement to his smooth baritone vocals. As frontman for the Blubinos, Monti enjoyed regional success before signing a record contract with Munich Records and moving to the Netherlands in 1993. Since returning to the U.S. Monti has become a pillar of the Portland music scene and continues to release new material under his own Silverback Label.

Initially a harmonica player influenced by Paul Butterfield, Henry Cooper taught himself to play guitar in open E tuning. This uncommon approach, which harks back to earlier times when an aspiring guitarist had to rely on his imagination to figure things out, has lead Henry to develop a playing style that is inimitable. Growing up in Eugene, Cooper honed his skills while playing in numerous local bands, eventually co-founding the Terraplanes. After a stint with the Duffy Bishop band, Cooper toured the U.S. and Europe with the legendary Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. A highly emotional and commanding stylist, Cooper’s contribution to the Portland music scene over the years cannot be underestimated.

The Sultans Of Slide are rounded off by singer-drummer Boyd Small and bassist Dave Kahl. Small, co-founder of the notorious Terraplanes along with Cooper, is an outstanding vocalist, songwriter and world class entertainer in his own right. Leader of the Boyd Small Big Blues Band back in the Netherlands where he now resides, Small was inducted into Portland's Cascade Blues Association's "Muddy Hall of Fame" for winning the "Best Drummer Of The Year" award three years in a row. Kahl, a superb musician whose credentials include his contributions to the bands of Paul Delay and Lloyd Jones, is an articulate and sensitive player whose deep-pocket approach is an indispensable element to the Sultans' groove.

The Sultans Of Slide completed their first album, “Lightning Strikes”, in the winter of 2010, which was unofficially released on January 1, 2011. The album consists primarily of original compositions by Amundson, Cooper, Goldwasser and Small, and is a sensational showcase of slide guitar pyrotechnics, ranging from gutbucket blues to roadhouse rock and roll.

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