New Year

SSC1703 2023-09-01

Track List

Fleurette Africaine - 4:09
Cherokee - 4:37
What’ll I Do - 3:57
Miss Venezuela - 2:58
Caravan - 5:06
Because You Like Trombone - 5:30
Campin’ In - 3:20
Blue Language - 3:07
The Grass Is Greener - 2:38
Home On the Range - 2:14
New Year - 1:42


Jim Campilongo & Steve Cardenas - acoustic and electric guitar

Long term friendships and creative partnerships are relationships that seemingly flow steadily without disruption, even if the individuals in question don’t speak or meet every day. Or even every year. But occasionally, there are moments where the coalition needs to be celebrated, or at least documented.

The extraordinary pairing of Jim Campilongo and Steve Cardenas has been a rewarding one for the two guitarists, who have been performing in tandem for the past twenty years. Though they have recorded together before, the pair had never released an album of this grouping. The opportunity was seized when Campilongo was planning his return to the Bay Area, the pair realizing the project that was always simmering and needed to be put to a boil. The result is their fantastic new album, New Year.

Campilongo moved to New York City from California in 2002, becoming enmeshed in the local rock and singer/songwriter scene, most notably with his own trio and as a member of The Little Willies with Norah Jones. It was around this time that he was introduced to Cardenas, through a mutual friend singer/songwriter Richard Julian. The two immediately connected and a fast friendship turned into a mutual admiration society from their first time playing together.

It was Campilongo who initially suggested that they get together and they quickly developed a working chemistry. They also decided to focus on playing only acoustic guitars in their duo, Campilongo on steel string and Cardenas on nylon string. Soon after, the duo began playing gigs at Rockwood Music Hall, the 55 Bar, and Barbès.

After some time, the duo recorded a short album which went splendidly, as they casually called tunes and put them to tape with ease. Complications led to this fantastic album going unreleased. The hope that that recording might someday be released, along with the pressure of having lightning strike twice, kept them from attempting to record again until now.

Engineer and friend Matt Marinelli, who loved the duo and their special chemistry, expressed an interest in recording Campilongo and Cardenas. Fast forward to the Fall of 2022: as Campilongo is preparing to move back to California, Cardenas realized that if they didn’t try to record something before the move, it might never happen. So, Cardenas suggested they get into the studio with Marinelli.

Just before the pandemic, the duo had begun to introduce their electric guitars into their sound world: Campilongo slinging his 1959 Fender Telecaster Toploader and Cardenas on his Valle Guitars custom Tele. When they reached out to Marinelli once again, they intended to bring the electrics along with the acoustics.

The three were able to figure out a schedule while Campilongo sat amongst his possessions in cardboard boxes preparing for the California move. They were able to convene at Norah Jones and Pete Remm’s Rainbow Star Studios for three days in September 2022. Along with their respective Teles and Martin acoustics, the musicians brought in originals and well-covered standards to perform.