Jim Campilongo
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Jim Campilongo


Band Americana Jazz


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"Top 50 Essential NYC Secrets"

"...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... Top 50 Essential NYC Secrets - TimeOut New York

"Live show review"

- March 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..." - BILLBOARD


“A few especially, gloriously twisted players possess the power to spark an uncomfortable bout of soul searching when we experience their music first-hand. You needn't even find the music itself remotely approachable enough to attempt to play, but when we hear something that is conceived with extraordinary creativity and a unique signature that defies imitation, it is always hard to ignore.” - TONEQUEST - Jan 2008 -

"Trots Allt (Sweden)"

"Jim Campilongo is maybe mostly known for his involvement in The Little Willies with Norah Jones. On his own, his music is bluesy and jazzy, not far from my old hero Roy Buchanan. The same gentle touch on his Telecaster, the same burning glow in his fingers, the same ability to dynamics and finesse, putting more trust into the fingers, than into some effect pedals. Both Norah Jones and Martha Wainwright is helping out with vocals on the album, which isn't quite neccessary - His own guitar sings good enough....."
- Magnus Sundell - Trots Allt (Sweden)

"Vintage Guitar Interview"

A quick listen to Telecaster master Jim Campilongo's latest record, "Heaven Is Creepy", or for that matter any of his older recordings will let you in on a secret. He is not content with the normal guitar sounds that most of us tend to look for. "Yeah, I've always loved sounds. Even before I became a Tele guy, I had a Les Paul and loved making car horn sounds. I had an ES-330. They had a little bridge and I figured out all the notes. I would(and still do) immediately go away from the fretboard, or into the toggle switches, or try for feedback. I guess I've always been very attracted to odd sounds."

Well, that's not all Jim's got going for him. His jazz and country instincts and adventurous nature help make him one of today's really unique players. "I try to always play at least one new tune at every gig. So I have a good amount of material when I go in to record." The songs can range from the pithy pop of "The Prettiest Girl in the World", to two different versions of "Cry Me A River" on the new record. On the instrumental version, Jim takes it places you may never expect to hear the classic. Then, when his fellow member in the group the Little Willies, Norah Jones, joins him for a vocal version, it's done beautifully and with reverence to past pop versions.

A list of Jim's influences is as diverse as his playing style. "Roy Buchanan was a huge influence, Muddy Waters, live Cream, the "Howard Roberts is a Dirty Guitar Player" record. I then really got into Django, Chet Atkins, Roy Nichols, John Mclaughlin. Just a mish-mosh of stuff. Maybe that's what I am, a whole melting pot of stuff."

For years Jim was associated with the San Francisco area, but moved to New York City several years back. "I thought there might be some opportunity here that might not be in San Francisco. I was hoping I could do some things that might be a little more challenging. It's worked out well, knock on wood, and I absolutely love New York City. I some ways the move helped me to redefine myself because of some press I've gotten that helped articulate things about my music that I hoped would be said. Plus, I've been able to do sessions and some of my music is being used in commercials."

Jim's also did a CD and short tour with the aforementioned Little Willies. That put him on national TV on a couple of occasions, including a nerve-wracking appearance on "The Conan O'Brien Show". "We did "Roly Poly" and learned that was kind of a tough tune to do on national TV. There were cameras all over my hands for that intro. Conan introduces us and it's like (sings intro to song, which is a quick syncopated run). I was like "don't choke" and I didn't. I would have to say that was one of the most pressured moments of my career." An appearance on "Late Night With David Letterman" presented a different problem. "It was literally 37 degrees in the studio. My guitar kept going really sharp. So up until seconds before we started, I was just tugging on my strings and tuning. It was so cold you could see your breath!"

Jim's Tele is a '59. "It's a top loader. The strings go through the bridge. I didn't even notice that when I got it. I'm not a real equipment guy, I just really like the guitar. It does have a bit of a rubbery feel and a nice woody sound. I use D'Addario strings, starting with an .009. They're great strings. For an amp, I used a Fender Vibrolux for awhile, but when I moved to New York, a great pedal steel player named Bobby Black pretty much just gave me a black-faced Princeton Reverb. I started playing it and just fell in love with it. It has a lot of head room and you can turn it up and you're not going to hurt anybody. And I like to play loud. Plus, it sounds great in the studio and they compress nicely with the Tele." Jim says cables make a difference too. "I try to use a short cable." With a laugh, he adds, "Sometimes I can't even make it to the microphone. That was a problem with the Willies, so I got a little longer cord, but usually I like a ten-footer. I think you can really hear the difference." Jim also uses no effects, which is astonishing when you hear his vast array of sounds. "As soon as you plug one thing in it's like this whole domino factor happens. I mean it's frustrating enough being an electric guitar player that your sound and your technique have to change in every room you play. And then you add five effects and up the combinations and possibilities. I try to have the mentality of plugging in, get a sound, get used to it fast, then listen to the high hat and bass, and get into the music."

Campilongo's records are always like fun adventures and multiple listens reward you with new treasures. I wasn't surprised by his answer when I asked him what CDs he'd been listening to lately. "The past couple of days I've listened to Thelonius Monk's "Piano Solo", Chopin's "Nocturne", the Sex Pistols "Never Mind the Bollocks", which is just a great rock and roll record, and yesterday I was listening to Buck Owens and the Buckaroos "Together Again" and thinking "is this the greatest country band ever or what?"." It's not hard to see why Jim's records and playing can keep you guessing.
-John Heidt - Vintage Guitar Interview, February 2007

"NY Times Ben Ratliff, Mar 2006, Little Willies"

"...There's a wild card, though, in the guitarist Jim Campilongo. He's a hotshot on the Fender Telecaster - with close readings of country guitarists like Jimmy Bryant, James Burton and Don Rich - and here his playing is a little bit disruptive and bizarre. But he's a good influence on the record: he wakes it up, helps it get over its frumpiness..."

"...And then there's Mr. Campilongo, whose clankiness is so good that one can understand the album as a good guitar record with bits of singing here and there..." - NY Times

"Heaven Is Creepy review"

Dirty Linen - May 2007
Jim Campilongo "Heaven Is Creepy"

Electric guitarist Jim Campilongo's star has risen since he moved to New York City from California a few years back. Campilongo's participation in the Little Willies project with Norah Jones has given the versatile guitarist higher visibility. His latest recording, "Heaven Is Creepy", finds the guitarist working with bassist Tim Luntzel and drummer Dan Rieser. It is a showcase for Campilongo's versatile forays into country picking("The Prettiest Girl In New York"), rock ("Monkey In a Movie"), and jazz (the film noir title tune) and highlights his facility at backing up vocalists Jones ("Cry Me a River") and Martha Wainwright (Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer"). - Dirty Linen Magazine


TBD (September 2009)
Almost Christmas (2008)
The Little Willies by The Little Willies (2006)
Heaven Is Creepy (2006)
American Hips (2003)
Heavy (2000)
Live at the DuNord (2000)
Table For One (1998)
Loose (1997)



NYC-based Americana guitarist Jim Campilongo (Camp-ill-long-o) has performed with Martha Wainwright, Norah Jones and Billboard has called him an “American treasure” for his guitar playing. His trio is one of the few bands to connect the dots between roots, swing, rockabilly, jazz and country twang.

Jim’s track record includes seven albums of original material as well as guest appearances on dozens of recordings – from the Bammie-winner’s contribution on Cake’s million-selling “Prolonging the Magic” to the critically acclaimed side project with Norah Jones called The Little Willies (2006).

Campilongo is a San Francisco native who is influenced by Chet Atkins, Roy Buchanan, Muddy Waters, Iggy and The Stooges and Billy Strayhorn. In 2002, Campilongo moved to New York, where he formed his Electric Trio. The trio plays every each Monday night at NYC The Living Room, a residency that Time Out New York calls “one of the city’s best.”

In 2007, Campilongo recorded his album Heaven is Creepy (2007), which The New York Times awarded 4 out of 4 stars. Look for Campilongo’s new album to be released in August 2009 and he will be playing festivals this summer and Europe in the fall.