Daniel Lanois and Heavy Sun Set Over Zebulon

Text and Photos by Daniel Corey

Daniel Lanois and organist Johnny Shepherd

Legendary producer and musician Daniel Lanois scored another coup in his long history of recording industry success last year when he released The Songs of Red Dead Redemption 2, the soundtrack album for the Rockstar video game of the same name. After years of producing hit records such as U2’s The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby, as well as Peter Gabriel’s So and Bob Dylan’s Time Out of Mind, a Western-themed video game soundtrack may sound like an unusual leap. RDR2 would, however, prove a natural fit for Lanois, whose personal style often blends roots Americana with cutting-edge modern studio methods.

Lanois’ current band, Heavy Sun, has recently been performing songs from RDR2 in their frequent live shows, as well as a new catalogue of traditional gospel tunes. At a recent signing of the RDR2 vinyl release at Amoeba Records in Hollywood, I had a chance to catch up with Daniel and ask him if we should be expecting a gospel record soon. He replied affirmatively, adding: “It’s not so much a gospel record as it is a ‘spirit’ record.”

Bassist Jim Wilson harmonizing with Lanois

A few weeks ago, I was happy to find out that Daniel and Heavy Sun were committed to a Tuesday night residency at Zebulon Café Concert. The evening is, in Daniel’s words, “meant to be a rehearsal,” as Heavy Sun are currently prepping for a summer tour. If you are local to Los Angeles, you can catch them at Theatre at Ace Hotel on May 14th. (Check out all of the dates on Lanois’ Facebook page.)

I have attended the past two Zebulon Tuesdays to hear Heavy Sun, and I have enjoyed every minute of it. The first set starts in the front room around 10 PM, followed by an intermission, then the second set wraps sometime between 1-2 AM. And it seems that no two nights will be the same: in addition to the RDR2 and spirit selections, the band has also played songs from Lanois’ personal discography. This week, we heard Falling at Your Feet and Fire from Lanois’ Shine album, as well as a very church-infused rendition of The Maker from Lanois’ solo debut, Acadie.

(I’m currently working on a longer piece about Lanois’ bassist, Jim Wilson, so be on the lookout for that. I previously wrote an article about Jim’s other band PEARL, which you can read HERE.)

I’m not sure how long the Zebulon residency will continue; as I said, they are heading out on tour in the summer. Hopefully we’ll have many more chances to catch Heavy Sun before then.

The Heavy Sun lineup is as follows:

Daniel Lanois: vocals, guitar, pedal steel

Jim Wilson: bass, vocals

Rocco DeLucca: guitar, lap steel, vocals

Johnny Shepherd: Hammond B3, vocals

To learn more about Daniel Lanois, check out his website and link to his albums on Apple Music.

– DC

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