Monday, May 5, 2014

Lonnie Knight Talks About His Life as a Musician and a Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan

Lonnie Knight is yet one more exceptional musician who will be joining a full line-up for A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan at Sacred Heart two weekends from now, May 17. His career in music has earned him noteworthy attention and praise from critics.

EN: How long have you been playing music professionally and how did you get started?
Lonnie Knight: I've been playing professionally since high school... It started with Dick Roby and I playing guitar in his basement. We met a bass player (Roy Hensley) and a drummer (Denny Craswell) and decided to start a band.

EN: Can you briefly run through your career path?
LK: I started in the Castaways, the Rave-Ons (with Dick and Larry Wiegand and Harry Nehls)... then Jokers Wild. I was attending the U of Minnesota when the folk boom caught me, and I began to do some solo work in coffee houses and college clubs around Minnesota... joined up with the Bitter End circuit out of New York City and traveled the country for a few years. When that scene dried up I went back to electric guitar, working with City Mouse, the Neilsen-White Band, the Hoopsnakes, and my own band Big Shoes. I was also on staff at Sound 80 Recording Studio as a session guitarist and producer.

These days I work solo, in a duo with Reid Papke on bass, in my new quartet Mosquito Shoals (Reid, Gary Haberman on percussion and Laura Owen on vocals.) I play once or twice a month with the Smokin' Section (Mike and Andy Boterman and Paul Mayasich), and occasionally with ROTU (Return of the Unexpected - Scott Sansby, Larry Wiegand, Dale Strength and Gregg Inhofer).)

EN: Your guitar work seems to get high praise from the critics. How would you describe your style?
LK: Working at Sound 80 for all those years, and the constant switch between acoustic and electric has probably shaped my style more than anything. Working as a session player, you never know when you walk in what's going to be played, so you need to develop at least a passing understanding of a number of different styles and genres. My biggest influences were probably Jeff Beck and Chet Atkins on electric, Bert Jansch and any number of fingerstyle guitarists on acoustic. I gave up the flat pick around 2003, everything I do now is fingerpicked, and that does make a big difference in approach to solos and rhythm patterns.

EN: How long have you been playing with Mosquito Shoals? What kind of music do they play?
LK: Mosquito Shoals has been together for about a year now. It's a hybrid acoustic/electric band. Gary plays everything from full drum kit to congas, djembe and hand percussion. Lots of original songs, and covers from artists as diverse as Joni Mitchell, Toto, Mark Knopfler... anything that strikes our fancy.

EN: In what ways has Dylan's music made an impact on you and your life?
LK: Dylan has been a huge influence, more as a lyricist than anything else. He opened the door to a whole new world of songwriting.

EN: How did you get hooked up with A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan
LK: I was working at Sound 80 when Dylan came in to record "Blood on the Tracks." Kevin Odegard and Dylan's brother put the band together, using the Sound 80 session staff and a few other people. As luck would have it, I was on the road doing concerts when the album was recorded. Kevin and Billy Hallquist are long-time friends of mine, and when the shows began to branch beyond just the original session players, I was invited to step in. It's been great fun ever since.

EN: Do you have some favorite Dylan songs or a favorite album?
LK: Too many good songs to name. I think my favorite albums are "Highway 61 Revisited," "Blood on the Tracks," "Blonde on Blonde." I also still love his early acoustic solo stuff.

EdNote: This blog entry and others like it have the aim of raising awareness for the upcoming Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concert which will kick off the 2014 North Country Dylan Celebration in Duluth and Hibbing. Sacred Heart Music Center, May 17, 2014. For tickets to this great event visit

If you wish to help, visit the Salute Facebook page and share with your friends by clicking the Invite button. 

A Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan is a presentation of the Armory Arts and Music Center and Magic Marc Productions.

Photos Don J. Olson Photography, Town Green Amphitheatre in Maple Grove, Minnesota during last summer's A Salute To The Music Of Bob Dylan.

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