Wednesday, January 13, 2016



Of the guitars used on Brooklyn band Leland Sundries’ new album ‘Music For Outcasts' (May, 2016 / L'Echiquier Records) one stands out: an inexpensive 1990s Sebring hollowbody guitar made in Korea. What’s special about it? Its former owner: Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner Taj Mahal. Bandleader Nick Loss-Eaton recalls, “We were on tour in North Carolina and I was hanging out with my friends at the Music Maker Relief Foundation headquarters outside of Durham. Tim Duffy – the head of the organization – was selling some gear. I asked if he had any hollowbodies and he pulled out this one and handed it to me on the spot, saying that Taj had given it to him and that he’d give it to me. I did a double take and said, ‘Taj Taj?!’ Strumming it, the electric guitar had a warm, natural tone, even unplugged.”

Paste Magazine premiered the band’s indie rock single “Studebaker,” which has drawn comparisons to The War on Drugs.

Loss-Eaton had been involved with the Music Maker Relief Foundation – a non-profit organization dedicated to recording and helping elderly, traditional, southern musicians – for many years: putting on two benefit concerts for the organization in New York, helping with publicity, donating money, and getting to know some of the elderly artists personally such as Boo Hanks, Whistlin’ Britches, and Ironing Board Sam.

Nick continues, “The guitar was pretty busted when Tim gave it to me, with broken electronics and some rust. I had it fixed up with a pair of GFS P90 pickups, some new hardware, and new amp-style knobs for volume and tone.” It has since been used in concert at shows opening for Todd Snider and Spirit Family Reunion. “We only used it on a couple of songs on the new album but it just shined,” the bandleader recalls.

Largely a rock and roll album, ‘Music For Outcasts’ also boasts wonderful songwriting and Americana music; it has been compared to ‘Mermaid Avenue.’ “Keys in the Boot” is a country waltz inspired by a phrase overheard while on tour in west Texas; “Freckle Blues” is a noir/blues written in NYC during Hurricane Irene; “Maps of the West” captures the optimism of a new relationship atop a driving train beat; and “The Tide (Love Letter In Scrimshaw)” tells the story of the end of that coupling as the tale of one left behind as the other takes an overseas voyage.

Taj had bought a pair of these because he loved the tone and the vibe, despite being inexpensive, Korean-made guitars; reportedly, he still has the other one.

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