Interviewed by J Howell
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Once, longer ago than I care to admit, I was a kid who’d just picked up his first electric guitar. Around that time, Guitar Player seemed to always have this ad in the back, featuring a hilariously startled-looking cat, for a band called “Jim Campilongo and the Ten Gallon Cats.” That very silly image stuck with me. A few years later, Jim was finally featured in the magazine, and though I still hadn’t heard his music, the descriptions of “ghostly wails emanating from a Vibrolux Reverb” also stuck with me.
Fast forward a few more years and, thanks to the miracle of the Internet, I was finally able to hear Jim, and damned if Heaven Is Creepy wasn’t all I’d hoped it would be and then some. Jim’s newest record, Orange, is out in February on his own Blue Hen Records. Campy just may be the best guitarist working today, and he recently took some time out of his very busy schedule to chat with me.
Popshifter: So you’re at the NAMM (the International Music Products Association) show right now, is that right?
Jim Campilongo: That’s correct, yeah.
Popshifter: And they’re debuting the Fender Jim Campilongo Signature Telecaster at the show, right?
Jim Campilongo: Yeah, that’s right.
Popshifter: So you must feel like you’ve “arrived” to have a Signature model Telecaster?
Jim Campilongo: Well, you know, in some ways, yes. . . I don’t know if it’s the equivalent of winning an Academy Award, but it certainly is nice acknowledgment and I really, really feel lucky and excited about what Fender’s doing for me.
Popshifter: Right. . . I’m sure it can’t feel bad. . .
Jim Campilongo: No, it doesn’t. . . it certainly doesn’t, you know. It’s like a lot of things: it goes in increments. And sometimes those increments are so small that it’s hard to see when a rose opens, or the sun rises, and certainly, there have been many increments that have occurred to get this guitar to today.
We’re still fine-tuning it to some degree, but I’m definitely really excited about it and I think the guys at Fender are. . . their hearts are in the right place and in my mind and in theirs, we want to make a great guitar and we’re hoping that some people buy it and make some great music on it and cherish it. I’m also hoping that some people will go out and listen to my music, who haven’t heard it before, and I think Fender is aware of that as well. I find that exciting, too.
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