Jim Campilongo is doing exactly what he wants to do — make music for people to enjoy. His career began in the mid-70s when he started taking lessons with Bunnie Gregoire as a pre-teen and now he’s all over the musical map doing gigs with Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson and Norah Jones as well as fronting his own instrumental group. On Saturday, Oct. 6, he’ll perform in Gardiner. In a telephone interview from his New York City home, the day before he was to fly over to Finland to perform, the famed guitarist chatted about his career and the trip he’ll be making to Maine next month.

Q: Have you ever performed in Maine before?

Campilongo: No.

Q: I read that you play a blend of blues, country, jazz and rock — does that mean folks will be treated to a wide range of styles at the Johnson Hall show?

Campilongo: Yeah, I guess so … I don’t really define myself that way, but when we play there is a continuity between it, so it’s not the same song over and over, or the same style.

Q: Seeing you said “we,” who are you going to have with you?

Campilongo: Well, I’m going to bring up Rob Heath on drums and Jay Foote on bass.

Q: Do you record with these gentlemen, as well as tour?

Campilongo: No … earlier this year I did a record with Norah Jones and The Little Willies. I wrote a couple of songs on that record — we played Letterman and Conan, it was really fantastic — I also have a signature guitar made by Fender. In New York I play with Tony Mason and Erik Deutsch, but Rob and Jay are great players as well, and we had so much fun doing Canada, I decided to ask them to come up and do Maine.

Q: Is this gig a part of a bigger tour or a one-shot deal?

Campilongo: Ed (Desjardins, the show’s producer) asked us to play, I said okay — to make a long story short! I mean, normally I don’t really play the states — I’ve been to Finland 15 times, but I’ve never played Maine. I’m going to Japan for my second time. I’ve played Italy numerous times, but touring and playing in the U.S. is a little harder, so I just thought I’d start venturing in the East Coast and Ed asked, so that’s why we’re going up — and I’m grateful he did.

Q: With all the styles of music you tap into, is there one style you prefer over another?

Campilongo: Well, I mean, I like all kinds of music, so I don’t really want to single anything out … but I have certain things I really embrace. I really like country music from the 60s and I love pedal steel guitar instrumental records. I also like Django Reinhardt and Lightnin’ Hopkins … so it’s kind of hard to say, but that would be a quick overview. I mean, probably my biggest influence is a guy named Roy Buchanan, but that’s almost 40 years ago. He certainly helped shape some of my musicality and why I play the guitar I play and why I sound the way I sound and why I choose the equipment I choose.

Q: Will your show highlight music from your nine albums?

Campilongo: Well, probably not all nine — I don’t think we can really cover them all — but it will be an assortment of music from my catalogue and a cover or two of someone else’s songs.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?

Campilongo: Just that I appreciate Ed reaching out to me — he’s been a total gentleman. I think he’s had a few friends of mine up there, too, and I really appreciate that. You know, we always try our best, so if anybody wants to come out and listen to us, we always really try to connect with the audience and make it a nice experience. We’re traveling a long way and we want to get our music to some people, you know … hopefully it will make them happy.

Lucky Clark has spent over four decades writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] megalink.net if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

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