Arlen Roth : Toolin’ Around Woodstock – Featuring Levon Helm

arlen_roth_woodstock.jpgTo those that know the name, Arlen Roth is regarded as nothing short of a true great of the guitar. While Vintage Guitar magazine cited him as one of the “Top 100 Influential Guitarists of the Century," his biggest claim to fame came with the launch of the groundbreaking video instructional series Hot Licks, showcasing the performances of many of the world’s top musicians and shipping more than two million videos worldwide.

Yet, as far as most of the world is concerned, this 35-year veteran has flown under the radar throughout his career. With a new album, Toolin’ Around Woodstock, Roth seems prepared to take his music to larger audiences. Roth is joined on the disc by famed drummer Levon Helm, as well as bassist Paul Ossola, rhythm guitarist Matt Rae, and keyboardist Brian Mitchell, while slide wizard Sonny Landreth makes a guest appearance on two tracks.

The disc also includes a bonus DVD featuring behind the scenes footage of the recording sessions, which took place at Helm’s Woodstock studio. Nearly all the material was cut live, including Roth’s stunning takes on the classics “Ballad of a Thin Man" and “Unchained Melody," the latter as a tribute to his late friend Danny Gatton, who had often spoken with Roth about cutting the song together in this style.

Each of the album’s 14 tracks – many borrowed from the catalogues of Chuck Berry, Bob Dylan, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Buck Owens and Carl Perkins – are equally enjoyable. The album is rounded out by a pair of Roth originals, featuring background vocals from his daughter Lexie as well Helm’s daughter Amy, and the scorching instrumental “Sleepwalk."

Toolin’ Around Woodstock is out now on Aquinnah Records.