Q: What are you playing on stage? What makes it great?
I primarily play a Gibson Les Paul. It’s a gold ‘50s tribute model and it looks and sounds very much like the ones that Carl played in his early career. He played his “Gold Top” on Blue Suede Shoes and most of his other Sun recordings. It’s important to me to try and capture the sound we hear on those records. A Fender tube amplifier and this guitar with P90 pickups is the way to go.
Q: How did you approach sounding like your character?
I’ve listened to this music my whole life. I just try to immerse myself in the recordings themselves. Not just the songs we do in the show but other music from Sun and that era in music. Learning some guitar licks and solos from Carl and Scotty Moore (Elvis’s guitarist) and others taught my fingers how to live in that stye. They’re big (blue suede) shoes to fill and it’s a work in progress!
Sam Sherwood plays the Carl Perkins song "Movie Magg"
Q: What do you play at home? What makes it (or them) great?
My go to-guitar at home is my Martin M38 (acoustic). It’s big and loud and it plays and sounds wonderful. It’s one year younger than me and it’s aged like a fine wine. I have a big old collection of other instruments as well. I also enjoy playing the mandolin, bass, banjo and whatever else I can get my hands on.
Sam Sherwood in Million Dollar Quartet, photo by Leslie Simon
Ian Haegele showing off his standup bass skills
Q: What kit are you playing on stage? What makes it great?
For Million Dollar Quartet I am playing on a 1964 Ludwig Super Classic drum set. It is perfect for this show because the drum sizes are much more consistent with the sizes used in the 50’s and what would have been used in this recording session. Also, the shells for the drums are made out of maple, which gives them a punchier sound, again very appropriate for the era.
Listen to Sean playing "Brown-Eyed Handsome Man" by Chuck Berry
Q: How did you approach sounding like your character/this era?
It is important to keep things simple and not over play for fills or solos. Once I get my beat going, I do not really deviate too much. During the 50’s they really wanted drummers to just keep a steady beat without trying to show off.
Q: What do you play at home? What do you like about it?
The kit I am currently playing at home, and on this recording, is a 2019 Pearl Session Studio Select drum set. It is a much more modern kit than the one I am using for MDQ, where the shells for the drums are made of a composite of birch and mahogany, and the sizes are a little larger. It gives the set a nice blend of sounds to both cut and blend, which is perfect for gigging musicians that play many different styles of music.
L-R: J.P. Coletta (Jerry Lee Lewis), Andrew Frace (Johnny Cash), Sam Sherwood (Carl Perkins), Ian Haegele (upright bass), Sean Case (drums). Photo by Leslie Simon.