Primary Instrument: Guitar
Last Updated: April 2, 2009
Billboard Magazine calls Jim Campilongo, an American treasure, an accolade this guitarist's artistry and influential career has richly earned him.
With seven albums of original material and guest appearances on dozens of recordings; from the Bammie-winner's contribution on Cake's million-selling Prolonging the Magic to (most recently) doing lead guitar duties with Martha Wainwright, Teddy Thompson and The Little Willies, his band with Norah Jones, He's also had repeat appearances on David Letterman, Conan O'Brien and been interviewed on many major radio shows. Campilongo is also a published guitar teacher and contributing editor for Guitar Player Magazine. Campilongo's virtuosity and originality has inspired a generation of guitar players. His songwriting uses a palette of the best in Blues, Country, Jazz and Rock with a sensitivity and wit that has also earned him the broad fan base most instrumental guitarist never enjoy.
Campilongo's career began in the mid 1970s when he studied guitar in his native San Francisco with the eccentric Bunnie Gregoire, who taught the pre-teen to embrace everything from George Van Eps to John Denver. Campilongo recalls, Before Bunnie I used to just randomly buy records if there weren't that many songs on them, I didn't care who the artist was. A banner day would be discovering a double album that only had two songs on it. So I ended up with John Coltrane Live in Japan and John McLaughlin's Devotion with Larry Young on organ. I listened to those records until they melted and I still do to this day (on CD). Eventually, I found Roy Buchanan's first album and all bets were off, I was going to be a guitar player. Jim's first instrument was purchased with Green Stamps.
In addition to Chet Atkins and Roy Buchanan, Jim began to be deeply affected by Muddy Waters and the Sex Pistols. Around this time he was given a 1959 Telecaster by an appreciative student in exchange for successful bass lessons. Playing that '59 Tele changed everything for me, Campilongo remembers, It was like it told me to get serious. Soon after, he formed the hugely popular Ten Gallon Cats, which featured pedal steel guitar and Jim's ever-expanding Country/Jazz vocabulary. They recorded three CDs.
Jim broke from the Cats and reached a creative pinnacle in his existing body of work with 1998's Table For One, a collection of winsome and elegant compositions praised by Billboard as, Americana at its most touching. Guitar Player affirmed the CD as a showcase for Campilongo's darkly romantic melodicism. The record also garnered Campilongo a new level of recognition.
In 2002, Campilongo pulled up stakes and moved to New York, where he formed his Electric Trio, which toured Europe and Scandinavia and recorded the acclaimed CD American Hips, lauded by Guitar Player as easily his best effort to date. No Depression raved, Campilongo meets himself every time he picks up his instrument; that brand of artistic bravery is rare and to be treasured. Since 2004 the Campy Trio reigns each Monday night at New York's Living Room, a residency that Time Out New York recommended as one of the city's strongest.
Jim currently lives in Brooklyn.
Gold Record -Cake -Two Bammies
JIM CAMPILONGO IN TOP 50 ESSENTIAL NYC SECRETS IN THIS WEEKS TIME OUT...
...New York has no shortage of guitar heroes but few cover as many bases as Jim Campilongo... ...reveals a range that extends from seductive country-swing to atmospheric jazz and well beyond...
BILLBOARD MAR 2007
...an overall killer course on How To Play Your Instrument Putting All Others To Shame. The man can jam. His instrumental compositions are practically lyrical, mixing blues with jazz with country. A real treasure...
DOWNBEAT DEC 2006
...HEAVEN IS CREEPY 4 STARS OUT OF A POSSIBLE 4 STARS...
VILLAGE VOICE NYC OCT 2006
...Campilongo takes his (as Jim Macnie so accurately coined) Twangadelica stepwise into gorgeousness...
... Cry Me a River - an eerie instrumental filled with his rubbery twang-jazz improvisations...
GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE MARCH 2007 - REVIEW HEAVEN IS CREEPY
... Campilongo keeps each composition air-tight with nary a sign of filler or fluff, and his playing continues to exhibit a brilliant musicality that relies as much on a finely tuned sense of space as it does on neck wrangling licks...
VINTAGE GUITAR MARCH 2007
.... his jazz and country instincts and adventurous nature help make him one of today's really unique player....
EAST BAY EXPRESS JULY 2007
...His music has echoes of Django Reinhardt, Buck Owens, Bach, Duke Ellington, the Beatles, and a panoply of folk, blues, jazz, and rock styles. Comped chords, delicate filigreed fills, long quavering sustained notes, and shimmering overtones slide together to produce a deep, moody, impressionistic sound....
SING OUT! MARCH 2007 HEAVEN IS CREEPY REVIEW
....Multi-faceted, genre-crossing ideas expertly expressed by a trio exhibiting phenomenal chemistry throughout...
PASTE MARCH 2007
Jim Campilongo Heaven Is Creepy
...Norah acquits herself well on the standard Cry Me a River...
GUITAR WORLD DEC 2006
.... his unrushed approach and generous tone create a comfortable, burnished grace that's distinctly all his own....
GUITAR ONE DEC 2006
.... Long master of the Telecaster, Jim Campilongo has a style that can be described as a cross between Chet Atkins and Thelonius Monk....
BLUES REVIEW FEB 2007
...the release is really a treatise on what an adventurous guitar player who merges jazz, blues, rock, and country can accomplish...
Jim Campilongo Complete Discography
(as of May, 2006)
As A Leader
* Jim Campilongo Electric Trio , "Heaven Is Creepy" - Blue Hen (2006)
* Jim Campilongo Electric Trio, "American Hips" - Blue Hen (2003)
* Jim Campilongo Band, "Live at the Du Nord" - Ethic (2001)
* Jim Campilongo and the 10 Gallon Cats, "Heavy" - Blue Hen (2000)
* Jim Campilongo Band, "Table for One" - Blue Hen (1998)
* Jim Campilongo and the 10 Gallon Cats, "Loose" - Blue Hen (1997)
* Jim Campilongo & the 10 Gallon Cats, "Jim Campilongo & the 10 Gallon Cats" - Blue Hen (1996)
*Martha Wainwright "I Know You're Married.." Rounder 2008
*Two Foot Yard "Borrowed Arms" Yard Work (2008)
*Teddy Thompson "Upfront and Down Low" Verve Records(2007)
*Sean Walsh "American Music" Eyeball Records (2007)
* Brandi Shearer, "Close to Dark" - Amoeba Records (2007) (Sideman and Co- Writer "Swampland" )
*Chiara Civello "The Space Between" Universal Music Europe 2007 Co-Writer "L Train"
* The Little Willies, "The Little Willies" - Milking Bull Records/EMI (2006)
* Sasha Dobson "Modern Romance" Secret Sun (2006) As Writer "Cold To
* Mudville, "Iris Nova" - (2006)
* April Cope, "Petals Fall" - Limelight Disc (2006)
* Richard Julian, "Manhattan" - Blue Note (2006)
* Wild Animus (Audiobook) - Too Far (2006)
* "Feber 2 New York" New York Compilation - Amigo Music (2005)
* Steve Yerkey, "metaneonatureboy" - Echo Records (2005)
* David Gleason, "Just Fall To Pieces" - Well Worn Records (2005)
* Julian Summerhill, "The Hologram Cowboys Lay Down With Their Horses" - 2005
* Michael Shelly, "Goodbye Cheater" - confidentialrecordings 2005
* Mudville, "The Glory Of Man Is Not In Vogue" - (2004)
* Sonya Greta, "Vigilante Arcade" - (2003)
* Ann Dyer, "When I Close My Eyes" - Sunnyside 2001 As Writer "Sarah"
* Joe Goldmark, "Strong Like Bull but Sensitive Like Squirrel" - Hmg Records (2001)
* Kurt Stevenson and Kate Maher - Pentecostal Bouffant Record, "Songs for Camp and Tabernacle" - 2001
* "Fortune Cookies" - Various Artists Fortune Records (2000)
* "Full Tan" - Vol. 1 Various Artists Fonit Cetra Records (1999)
* Joe Goldmark, "All Hat No Cattle" - Hmg Records (1999)
* "Stranger Than Fiction" - Various Artists Oglio Records (1999)
* Cake, "Prolonging the Magic" - Capricorn (1998)
* San Francisco Song Cycle, Vol. 1 Various Artists Olde West (1998)
* Jim Greer, "Rover Songs" - Fortune Records (1998)
* "Treasures Left Behind: Remembering Kate Wolf" - Various Artists - Red House (1998)
* Joe Goldmark, "Steelin' the Beatles" - Lo-ball Records (1997)
* Preacher Boy and The Natural Blues, "Gutters and Pews" - Blind Pig (1996)
* Preacher Boy and The Natural Blues, "Preacher Boy & The Natural Blues" - Blind Pig (1995)
* Stephen Yerkey, "Confidence, Man" - Heyday (1995)
* Looters, "Imago Mundi" - Monster Music (1992)
* Wilson Gil And The Willful Sinners, "Gunstore, Liquourstore Project" - (1992)
* Komotion International Various Artists (1989)
* Click Dark, "President's Breakfast" - (1988)
* Katt, "Katt" - Nutone (1987)
* Po Go Bo, "Po Go Bo" - Nutone (1987)
* The Know, "The Know" - Nutone (1987)
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Willing to teach:
Take the "L" train to the Grand St stop. I'm 50 yards from the stop
I'm happy to supply a quality electric guitar for you to play at the lesson *no problem AT ALL*
Please bring a blank cassette for my recorder, SanDisk for my recorder (see attachment below for example) or recording device of your own for taping the lesson.
**Recording the lesson will help you out greatly**
Lessons are $85.00 for one hour of private instruction .
*** I have a 48 hour cancellation policy.***
All the best & thanks -Jim
The equipment I use ...
I have a '59 Fender Tele three saddle toploading bridge with threaded "steel" saddles and slot head set screws. 1959 was the only year Fender produced string through BRIDGE and not BODY. As far as the Toploader -- I think the feel and sound is a bit more "rubbery" then a standard Tele. I aquired my Tele when a generous pal, John Jensen gave it to me about 12 years ago. He gave to me because I fell so much in love with it! I still feel like it is my musical home. Both pickups have had windings snap internally and have been rewound by Seymour Duncan. So, they are "original" and "Duncan's" at the same time.
I like D'Addario EKXL120 009's-.042 sitting as high as possible over the pickup plate. This helps me avoid picking the pickup plate instead of the low E string I also have a tendency to miss strings 3 and 4 . An extreme arch somewhat remedied this problem. I have a string endorsement but I used and liked D'Addario well before they gave the strings tome . I like their bright sound and feel. Maybe I'm imagining this but D'Addario seem wound tighter then "Boomers". They feel more "round wound" on my fingertips. I always get these "raised eyebrow" looks when I say I use .009's but I've used that gauge (on my electrics) since 1973. I've always felt that a lighter gauge was easier on the fretting hand, but harder on the picking hand. Why? Because there is less string surface there is less string to strike. I've used .010's and felt that the sound was too bright. More info can be found at www.daddario.com
Everything else on my guitar -- pickguard, tone and volume pots (stock, stock, stock I repeat STOCK!), nut, tuners, saddles, paint job... has been redone or replaced many times over. I replace the pots once a year, the nut sometimes more. The tuners last 3 to 5 years. I've had many saddle sets, they usually rust and freeze solid.
I use Fulltone "Gold Standard" guitar cable, as short as I can handle, 8 ft to 10 ft. They are a bit "brighter" then most cables I've used which is something I usually shy away from. I mean, have you EVER heard ANYONE say "I can't get enough highs out of this Telecaster!"? All that said, Fulltone add a nice clear fidelity I enjoy. I just wish they would return at least ONE of my e mails!
I really like the Klon Centaur for overdrive but except for the occasional session, I haven't used it since I've been using a Princeton Reverb. In my opinion the Centaur is the best overdrive in the market. Learn more about it at www.klon-siberia.com
I own about seven amps and lately I prefer the weight, portability and sound of Princeton Reverbs. I own two '66 Princeton Reverbs, three 70's Princeton Reverbs, a '70 Vibrolux Reverb (with one solid state rectifier instead of a tube) and a 70's Vibrochamp. Most of these amps have had the original speakers all re-coned several times from de-tuning mayhem.
I have not tried any clones and I'm pretty committed to Fender. Aside from tone -I still love looking at the logo, the grill cloth etc etc.