Interview: Lester Peabody – Rockabilly From Finland!
Out of all the places on this wonderful planet we live on I would never think of finding such an outstanding rockabilly guitar cat in Finland! This cool cats name is Lester Peabody from Helsinki. Lester is the real deal dishing out Merle and Chet licks all over the place along with authentic jazz and blues runs. And if that wasn’t enough he also plays pedal steel! This is one talented and very busy guitarist. In this interview we catch up with Lester after returning from some performances in Germany and he talks about his choice of guitars and amps as well as the many projects he is involved with at the moment. Take it away Lester….
300guitars: Hi there Lester. Please tell us a little about yourself.
Lester Peabody: I was born in -67 in a small town in Finland but lived all my life in Helsinki capital area. I got my first guitar which was a nylon string when I was 13 years old.
300guitars: Are you a self taught player or did you study with an instructor?
Lester Peabody: I’m pretty much self taught, although I did have a teacher in the beginning who taught me a few basic chords. Most of what I know I’ve learned from instructional books and just by listening. Mel Bay’s Merle Travis Style-book by Tommy Flint was basically what really got me into playing fingerstyle. This was back in the mid 80’s. Since then I’ve tried to study a bit more of the chord theory, jazz improvising, etc. But most of it comes just by listening to records and trying to learn from those.
300guitars: What kind of guitars do you have?
Lester Peabody: I have just two guitars at the moment, they were both built by a top notch Finnish luthier Juha Lottonen. One is a repro of a -56 D’Angelico New Yorker; a big, whopping solid carved wood arch top. The second one is Juha’s Centurion model, it has an all birdseye maple body with Bigsby style pickguard, armrest, etc and complete with Bigsby repro PU’s. I also have two pedal steels; a -63 triple neck Bigsby with five pedals and a -63 double 10 string Sho Bud.
300guitars: What type of amplifiers are you using?
Lester Peabody: The only amp I own at the moment is a Standel 25L15 reissue which I bought new in -99. It works great for both guitar and steel. I do sometimes use other amps in the studio if available and needed. Like for the last recording project I used my friend’s Ampeg M15.
300guitars: Do you use any effects for your style of playing?
Lester Peabody: I pretty much use just echo or reverb, depending on what style I’m playing; fingerstyle, jazz, blues or maybe steel guitar. I do have a small tremolo unit that I use very occasionally, that’s about it.
300guitars: Tell us about the band and situations that you are currently working in. Do you have any CD’s available?
Lester Peabody: I’m currently involved with three bands; The Barnshakers, The Hogs Of Rhythm and Ranch Riot. I also do solo gigs with either just me and my guitar, me with a rhythm section, or a full band with a tenor sax and piano/Hammond B3. Kinda depends on who’s available for the gig. The Barnshakers have also been doing shows and recorded two cd’s with a girl from Austin, TX named Marti Brom and The Hogs Of Rhythm just recorded a cd with a r&b singer from Kansas City by the name of Little Rachel. That one should be out in a matter of weeks. All my bands have recorded a bunch of cd’s, EP’s, LP’s etc during the years and of course I’ve recorded two solo cd’s as well on my own name. I also played alot for years with Hal Peters & The Stringdusters and recorded many cd’s , LP’s and 45’s with them. They’re all available on Goofin’ Records of Finland as well as everything else my bands have released.
300guitars: Is there much interest for your type of music in Finland? Do you travel abroad for performances?
Lester Peabody: There’s a lot of club activity and festivals in Helsinki and all over Finland for all kinds of styles of roots music; lot of blues and rockabilly festivals and jazz festivals and clubs. You don’t hear it much on the radio but the live music scene at the moment is pretty good. And yes, we’ve played a lot abroad; practically all over Europe and US and even Russia, Japan and Australia. The rockabilly and roots music scene is really an international and a tight community.
300guitars: Thanks for taking the time for this interview Lester. You are a fine picker and I hope the future is very successful for you!
Lester Peabody: Thank you very much, I really do appreciate your interest!
Here is a great clip of Lester playing “Lover Come Back to Me”.
You can learn more about Lester Peabody at the links below.
Lottonen Guitars: http://www.lottonen.com/