I have been following Angelo Santelli’s career for a while and while he may not be on your radar yet, he should be. In the simplest terms possible, you can put his slide talent snugly between Duane Allman and Derek Trucks. It would be a gross understatement to box him into that category but, it gives you a hint of his ability.
He’s played with many of the second generation of Allman’s and when you step on stage with names like Oakley, Allman, and Betts, you had better be ready to play.
He’s also had the distinct pleasure of once backing up CoCo Carmel and Bobby Whitlock. Mr. Whitlock has been a member of and contributed to albums by Delaney & Bonnie, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Derek and the Dominos, just to name a few.
Angelo and I cover his bands, gear, and future plans.
J: Hey Angelo, let’s get right to it. I have a feeling that you picked up guitar for the the same reason I did, because your dad plays. What made you want to pick it up and keep playing after you started?
A: I definitely picked it up because of my dad. I always had music around me through him and had toy or jr sized guitars, spoons, but when I was 12 I started getting into classic rock like Pink Floyd, the Doors and from my dad, the Allman Brothers. I heard my dad do a rendition of Little Martha and it really captivated me. He tells people the story and says “it set my soul on fire”. I was really captivated by the melody of Little Martha and had him show me it, and eventually I learned how to finger pick when refining my own rendition. It’s quite an advanced piece to begin playing, but learning it so early definitely gave me a boost when I started playing!
J: It’s a beautiful melody to start learning from. What music were you listening to when you first started really playing and what kind of sound were you trying to get to?
A: When I decided to really dedicate myself to playing at 12 the main two bands were Pink Floyd and the Allman Brothers. My stepdad had a bunch of Pink Floyd CDs and my dad had a bunch of Allman Brothers Band. I played a lot of acoustic at first, trying to learn acoustic parts to songs like “Dogs” and “Pigs on the Wing” from Pink Floyds Animals.
J: You’ve obviously excelled at the “Southern Rock/Slide” genre but what influences and what bands got you there?
A: The only “southern rock” band I listen(ed) to heavily was the ABB, and for the first few years (until I was about 15) I only tried to mimic Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, for slide. I didn’t even attempt any Derek Trucks style stuff until about 15, but I had first heard him at about age 14. I like some Lynyrd Skynyrd stuff but they didn’t really influence me at all. I had a very narrow slide focus for a while and just listened to lots of other stuff for enjoyment, like Miles Davis (In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, Live Evil and Jack Johnson) Mahavishnu Orchestra (especially Inner Mounting Flame and The Lost Trident Sessions) and early Weather Report (first album, Live in Tokyo/I Sing the Body Electric, Sweetnighter)
J: Ok, let’s get nerdy for a minute. What gear are you using now and how does that vary depending on where you play?
A: My current electric gigging rig is a 2005 Gibson SG ’61 Reissue with WCR Fillmore pick up set (I don’t have an endorsement with him they were just the first Duane-style overwound pickups I found 10 years ago). I use a real Coricidin bottle without the safety cap lip that my dad found for me recently and a certain short thick walled model of Silica Sound Slides (which I do endorse, along with Apex strings, a new brand made by the guy who held several patents with Dean Markley). I also have a Coricidin bottle copy with the safety cap from the guy who had bought the Coricidin bottle molds and marketed his reproductions as “The Duane Allman Slide” until Gibson made him stop. The gigging acoustics I use are either a German Martin copy or some cheapy “Brownsville New York” acoustic electric. I play round neck dobro and 12 string guitar but I don’t do any gigs right now with them.
J: People always want to know about the guitars but what about amps. Do you have any favorites that bring out that tone you’re looking for?
A: My current gigging amp is a Marshall Haze 40 with all the on board effects out of the circuit. In storage at my friends studio in Michigan is my 1976 Bassman 10 (The Santelli Special) that has a completely original circuit with added transformers and other stuff built by a guy I believe by the name of Vic Watkins in Kalamazoo, MI sometime in the 90s. It had been floating around W. Michigan for a while until I picked it up over 10 years ago. It has a mix of some Webber speakers in it and is supposed to sound like a hot rodded plexi, which isn’t too far off the Marshall Haze tone. One of best my friends and old bandmates, organ and guitar maestro Tom Eldred cloned it and dubbed it “The Santelli Special”. I also gig occasionally with 2006 Blues Jr that is currently not working. It has a speaker from a Hammond A100 organ.
J: Any effects pedals at all and what’s your stance on them?
A: Yes I love effects. My effects are a 1974 Echoplex EP-3, a Fulltone Mini Deja Vibe (cream colored one with no treadle) and a Crybaby with the adjustable resonance. I sometimes use other weird effects based on analog synthesizer circuits like a sample-and-hold filter like the effect Zappa used on “Ship Ahoy”. I also sometimes use a Hendrix Octavia clone. I definitely did not adopt the typical ABB guitarist stance of little-to-no effects. Hendrix’ biggest influence on me was his choice of effects (why I use the Univibe, wah-wah and occasionally an Octavia). Tommy Bolin and Sonny Sharrock are why I got an Echoplex.
J: You have played and continue to keep company with some fantastic musicians. Can you explain how the Bobby Whitlock & Coco gig came up? That’s like a dream come true.
A: In 2015 someone told me about how Bobby was doing a tour and was looking for a couple different guitarists. I got in touch with him, he saw some videos of me shredding on Dobro and asked me to do a couple gigs. We played in Cleveland, OH and were booked in Ferndale, MI (Detroit ‘burb) but the MI gig was cancelled. Bobby and his wife CoCo are awesome. He has some wild stories that were really entertaining. It was definitely special be able to not just cover Duane and Clapton’s parts on the Layla material, but to be encouraged to add my own style. I definitely hope to be able to do it again if he tours again!
J: You’ve also shared a stage at various times with Michael Allman, Berry Duane Oakley, and Duane Betts. What is that experience like for you as a fan of the music, and as a player.
A: I gigged around the south and Midwest with Michael from 2011-2012 and gigged with him on and off over the years since then. There were some memorable times but it was definitely much more of a party than serious touring. I first sat in with Berry at the Siesta Key Oyster Bar more than 10 years ago. The first real gig I did with him was at the 2009 premiere of the film “Please Call Home” in Sarasota, FL. I play with him a few times a year and it’s always a lot of fun.
I first heard Duane Betts in 2006 when Dickey’s band played the Common Ground festival in Lansing, MI and have gigged with him a few times in Sarasota, usually as gigs that Berry put together. It’s definitely fun being able to trade off with him since I took a lot of Duane Allman’s style (on lead and slide) and he learned firsthand from his dad his style, and us playing together with our own derivative styles. Pedro Arevalo is another one and someone I really enjoy listening to as a “fan” because he has such a unique slide guitar style. Hearing him when I was 15-16 really opened my mind up about some stuff you could do with bottleneck slide outside of the Duane/Dickey/Derek vocabulary, like using a wah pedal and creative uses of harmonics.
J: I’m glad that you mentioned Pedro Arevalo. I just watched Myakka Alembic Band from 2017 Venice Blues Festival on YouTube and what a great jam. You, Berry Oakley, and Pedro Arevalo have a really cool 3 way slide jam about 8 minutes in that impressed the hell out of me. Everyone was listening and playing off of each other and I really loved that give and take. Do you have any thoughts about that show that you want to go into more detail?
A: That Myakka Alembic was our original band name but people had trouble pronouncing it and just didn’t think it was as cool as I thought it was (lol) so we changed it to Santelli Oakley or Santelli McKenzie Oakley but that’s a bit too long…that was a really fun gig though. We do lots of jams like that at the Hoosier Bar in Osprey, FL (Sarasota, also the town Dickey lives in) where Berry holds his “Sunday Blues Service” which has been going on for the better part of nearly 4 years. That gig was one of the first times I sang in public which I really don’t like to do but you have to sing if you’re going to make any money unfortunately. Playing with Berry and Pedro is always fun because they’re such top tier talents that it’s easy to really “jam” with interaction. Everyone in this Sarasota music circle is familiar with the ABB style of jamming and everyone brings their own flair to it.
J: We ran into each other in Nashville back in 2016 at Soulshine. How did you like that Music scene there and why did you take off for NY and then Florida?
A: I was honestly pretty disappointed with the Nashville scene. People had been telling me for years to go there, and I moved there in 2015 (after the Bobby Whitlock gig) already having known guys like Jack Pearson and Kenny Olson from when Michael and I played the Dan Toler Benefit there in 2011. I met some more great people there but there just wasn’t a lot for me to do there. There’s lots of areas in Florida where you can make a decent living as a solo, duo or bands and despite being “music city” I thought the actual jobs for musicians were really lacking.
NYC was a small attempt to see what I could do there after I started dating a girl from Manhattan that I met while doing a residency gig with Biscuit Miller in Key West last year. I found it pretty similar work-wise to Nashville, except Manhattan has so much more going on. I really think it’s the greatest place in the world. I was born in FL and have lived here at different times in my life so after Nashville and also an attempt in Detroit as well it made the most sense to come back to Sarasota where there is a small but thriving music scene with some of the best talent around.
J: You have a couple CD’s out I believe, where can they be purchased if people want to catch up with your work.
A: I have 2 full length CDs 2009’s “Marble Garden” and 2014’s “Angelo Santelli” as well as the Leo Kottke-style EP from 2016 called “The Slide Guitar That Destroyed the World”. All are on digital outlets like iTunes. Google play, Amazon MP3. The self-titled CD can be ordered from Bandcamp. (I just realized I didn’t have it and placed my order now!!!)
J: You continue to also play with Shaun Oakley and Travis McKenzie in the Santelli Oakley Band. Do you guys have a regular schedule in Florida and are you doing much traveling?
A: Last summer I put this band together with Shaun and Travis. It has been a slow start but with lots of great feedback. We are trying to find a good agent to help us get touring because it’s pretty difficult to book all the stuff grassroots as a new band. We missed out on the big blues and jam-band festival season for this spring and summer which is rather disappointing. We have rooms we want to play in Manhattan, Chicago, Nashville, Atlanta, Macon and all over Michigan and Florida but it’s just about getting the gigs booked and having the itinerary scheduled right.
J: What’s the next step for you and or your band?
A: We’re trying to get an album together, we have an album worth of originals but just haven’t been able to record it. We’re thinking of trying to do a Snarky Puppy-style “live I the studio” album but we just haven’t been able to get it going. I also am wanting to do a new studio album of some other material I have (all relatively in the same genre, just different band formats). We’re trying to get our first national tour underway but as I had mentioned it’s really hard doing it grassroots. Definitely by the end of the year we should have completed at least one national tour with dates on the east coast, Midwest and around FL.
I want to thank Angelo for taking the time to talk with me and share what he’s working on.
There are many amazing musicians paying their way, gig by gig, day in and out because they love music. Angelo keeps digging in his foothold and when that break comes, I’ll be in line to get my ticket and buy the album.
Here’s where you can catch up with Angelo and his projects.
Angelo Santelli Music FaceBook
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