Fast forward to age A family friend saw I'd been writing music. Friends would come over and my dad would get the guitar out, and sometimes I would play a song I'd written. So a friend asked me to write her boyfriend a song, then she took me up to his work and had me play the song for him. He was like 'You're really good, I'm going to pay for you to go to a studio. Sure, it was raw, and it's long out of print. But right there were the pencil sketches for a truly singular career in roots music and beyond. Twenty years later, Sonia Leigh is reaping the rewards of a lifetime paying so many dues that she really did go for broke.
To go back one chapter in an ever-evolving storybook, January saw Leigh's latest album of new studio compositions, 'Mad Hatter. A dyed-in-the-wool devotee of such figureheads as Loretta Lynn and Bruce Springsteen, this time she wanted to open up to some more recent inspiration. I have this one side, but I have a lot of other music that I wanted to express, and I needed to get that out unapologetically.
I had a friend who worked at Abbey Road and we thought, 'This should be fun to do. I co-produced 'Mad Hatter' and I got to experiment with making beats and sounds, but I wanted to show people I haven't forgotten about my roots, and have fun with my friends. The album stands as a momentary look over her shoulder, and she was determined to share in this unique studio setting.
Single-minded then as now, she decided to learn some Melissa Etheridge sheet music instead. Stay he did, and the rest is history, as they say. I caught up with John shortly after Uncaged was released to the world, and was grateful that he found some time to share his thoughts with me in the midst of the ZBB whirlwind. The band has had a lot of major success in a relatively short time. How are you handling all the attention? I feel like I have the best of both worlds.
Did you feel like you had a great record in the making as you were recording it? I feel like Uncaged is our boldest record so far.
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This band grows a little bit with every single performance and in larger bits with each album. We expect a lot out of each other and out of each record. Greg Allman just sat in with the band at one of your shows in Camden. What was that like?
No one in southern rock and roll has made a bigger impact on me musically than The Allman Brothers Band. I have strived to emulate Gregg Allman in many ways as a vocalist. When you get the chance to play with one of your heroes, it can almost be surreal.
His banter and camaraderie is instantly disarming. He is a cool dude with a kind, fun demeanor.
It was awesome. I started singing at age 3. I have a Theatre degree from FSU. I owe a lot of my success to my work ethic. Sometimes, that task is assembling and running a sound system. When I made my first album, I bought a recorder instead of studio time. It affects my approach to everything. The jam band sensibility is really starting to grow in us.
Tell me about your gear: basses, live rig, effects, strings, etc. I play Modulus basses, primarily. I asked Modulus to build me a P bass for the Grammys and they have added it to their full time lineup. The Funk Persuasion It really sounds great on the island music we do. My upright is a Bjarton Swingmaster cutaway bass. I also use a Taylor acoustic bass discontinued and a Kala Uke Bass during our acoustic set.
Peavey is very dependable and I have been playing their bass gear since What are your preferences regarding volume when playing live? What is the general level the band plays live, and where do you like to hear your bass in the mix? No one ever has trouble hearing us in the house, so stage volumes have become more reasonable over the years. Back in the day, stage volumes used to peel our faces off.
I do very little soloing during our set, so I like my tone to be thick and heavily concentrated in the subs. I want the subs to be an extension of my own stage cabs. Big bass. All the time. I have to be able to feel the rumble to be satisfied on stage. We have been using in-ear monitors for many years now and I depend on the rump shaking qualities of the cabs a lot. My monitor mix is dominated by drums, bass and my voice. Everybody else comes next and they are generally panned hard left and right based on their stage position.
My first bass was a Yamaha RBX The more we played, the more I defaulted to the Flea. Eventually, Modulus took over my whole rig. It has made me realize a lot about who I am and who I want to be.