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Meet Sunny War: A Country Blues Singer Who Transcends Time

Sunny War
Sunny War

In this week's print edition, LA Weekly presents an introduction to singer and guitarist Sunny War, who maybe you've seen busking at Venice Beach or at the Sunday morning Hollywood Farmer's Market. War, who draws on country blues and folk music to create her uniquely American sound, is young, is smart, also plays in a Smell band called the Anus Kings, and just signed both a publishing deal and a sponsorship deal. (Gotta love LA).

Writer Michael Simmons, who profiled her for this week's paper, wrote this of her guitar style in discussing the video below:

She's harnessing her own arrangement of the traditional song "Deep River Blues" in a claw-hammer style: Her right thumb plunks the bass part while her forefinger upstrokes notes and chords, leaving the other three fingers unused. A banjo technique, it's also used by acoustic blues guitarists. Her fingers are long and strong -- Robert Johnson hands -- in jarring contrast to the waif they're attached to. The walking bass line sounds like a hammer striking piano keys in perfect meter, while the fills are dynamic flurries -- like cluster bombs. I haven't heard a young guitarist this dexterous and ass-kicking in eons.

War says this of the magnetic draw of country blues: "It has soul. Everything from the past is better than it is now. Our way of life was more honest. We were more connected to God, to the Earth and to each other. People use to actually play instruments; now it's all computer stuff. I like the idea of not having a TV, cooking, drinking and playing guitar with your friends. Old music sounds like utopia to me."

Sunny War performs twice this week: On Monday, July 20 at The Talking Stick in Venice from 7:30-8 p.m., and on Thursday, July 23 at the Mint at 8 p.m.


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