Episode 103: Doug Pettibone
Air date: 2.26.2014
In the music world, ‘sideman’ is a term used to describe a member of a band who supports the main act. Their employment can range from a single gig to a long, steady career with a single marquee artist. Their job is to make their employer sound good, and the amount of attention they receive can also vary widely – from nameless jobbers to players who have made supporting other artists their primary claim to fame and source of income. It can be a great gig, because the members of the band can go to the mall without being mobbed while their boss suffers the trappings of fame. Guitarist Doug Pettibone has been the right-hand-man for revered songwriter Lucinda Williams for over a decade, accompanying her both in the studio and onstage. Although playing in Lucinda’s band is his main gig, he has also worked with a long list of household names, not the least of which are Keith Richards, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer, Norah Jones, Sting, Steve Earle, Elvis Costello, Jewel and Tift Merritt. But Pettibone is far being from the kind of sideman that just plays guitar next to the singer. He also writes, produces and plays a multitude of instruments with a near virtuosic flair. All of these skills are showcased on his brand new album, Gone, released in February of 2014. Far from being the vanity project of a journeyman guitarist, Gone finds Pettibone showcasing his considerable skills as an artist in his own right. All the amazing guitar parts and tones that are the hallmark of Pettibone’s playing are evident on Gone, and the liner notes read like a who’s who of top echelon musicians. Perhaps most pleasantly surprising is the confidence of his vocals as the songs veer from breezy Southern California Byrds-style pop to blues of both the jazzy and down and dirty kind.