SIMO: "Let Love Show The Way"
On my very first trip to Nashville, I was doing something most guitar players do when in that town. A friend of mine and I were browsing the one-of-a-kind inventory at Gruhn Guitars on Lower Broadway. Since we’d just hit town, we were asking a lot of questions and we received a tip that has greatly influenced my playing ever since.
The recommendation was to stroll down the street to a place called Robert’s Western World, where we were told we’d find one of the best guitar players we’d ever have an opportunity to hear. At that time, I had limited knowledge of Country Music and even less about the Nashville music scene. I was actually pretty skeptical about what we’d find in a place called Roberts Western World.
Nevertheless, my friend and I took the advice and we headed for Roberts. We grabbed a beer and sat down to hear the Don Kelley band ripping up their unique version of Folsom Prison Blues.
Expecting to hear something similar to a generic cover band version with nothing fancy, my mind was blown when J.D. Simo played that lead guitar solo that’s familiar to just about everyone. Tasteful and creative is the best way I can describe his playing. He’s always pushing the boundaries, with occasional licks that take him over the top and into the stratosphere.
Ever since, I’ve been a huge fan. His playing has inspired me to practice twice as hard! Since then, I’ve seen him play live more than a dozen times. I was often found sitting through their entire four-hour set, with my ears glued to his guitar. His playing is something you won’t want to miss. Even if you can’t get to Nashville, you can watch him on YouTube playing blues, country, or just noodling around in a guitar shop.
More than a year ago, he left the Don Kelley Band to start his own project called SIMO. That’s what I really want to share with you today. I was lucky enough while living in Nashville a few years ago to hear about a SIMO show at the Mercy Lounge. It's a kind of hole-in-the-wall bar and this was my first live experience with JD outside of the Don Kelley Band. I’ve played my share of bar shows and I usually bring multiple amps, often being accused of overkill. JD was pumping his guitar through two vintage Marshall full stacks. Needless to say it was plenty loud! I had my camera in tow and was able to capture some of my coolest pictures ever.
J.D.’s highly anticipated album "Let Love Show The Way" is scheduled to be out January, 29, 2016. I’ve downloaded several cuts and I’m betting he’ll hit the ground running with this project!
I checked out his web site, simo.fm and it said the following about the new album:
“Cut entirely live, in full, unbroken takes—vocals and solos included—the sound is primal, sweltering and immediate. ‘We live and die by the take,’ says singer-guitarist J.D. Simo. ‘We don’t edit, and if there are overdubs, they’re minimal. I want it to be unaffected and pure. For me, the music that always resonates most is when a performance is captured. That’s what I love, and that’s what we go for. The first album ever recorded at Macon, Ga.’s Big House—the communal home of the Allman Brothers Band during their late ‘60s/early ‘70s heyday—Let Love Show the Way, finds J.D. SIMO not just reveling in the hallowed space’s unique mojo and history, but taking it to a fresh and inspi
As a musical unit, Simo, his longtime drummer Adam Abrashoff and bassist Elad Shapiro have an undeniable chemistry, taken to even greater heights with JD playing Duane Allman’s 1957 gold-top Les Paul for every track on the record. This is the same six-string heard on the first two Allman Brothers LPs, the same storied guitar that delivered the unforgettable riff on Derek & the Dominoes’ Layla.
J.D. is now part of an elite group of artists including Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and Wilco’s Nels Cline who share the rare honor of having wielded this talismanic instrument”
I can’t wait to get my hands on this album. As a huge fan of The Allman Brothers, Derek & the Dominoes and literally anything from that generation, I can’t wait to hear all of Simo’s great guitar work on this new project. Plus, knowing the album was recorded live, in unbroken takes, it makes you really appreciate the musicianship involved. This is particularly true with all of the auto-tuning and countless numbers of takes done by some players today while seeking their versions of perfection.
In closing, if you haven’t checked out J.D. Simo as a lone guitarist or with his band SIMO, do yourself a big favor and jump on YouTube. You can find countless videos of the work he’s done. Listen and learn. He’s definitely impacted my playing.
Thank you for reading.