OT - Ann Arbor's Laith Al-Saadi - The Voice

Submitted by NCMtnBlue on May 2nd, 2016 at 11:34 PM

Being a resident of NC who loves the blues & high quality guitar play, I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Laith Al-Saadi on "The Voice" this season.  His performance of B.B. King's "The Thrill is Gone" tonight was excellent.

Question I have for MGoBloggers from the Ann Arbor area - Who has had the opportunity to watch this guy live?  How would you rate his musicianship, or live performance?  

Will embed a video below of his national anthem at the 2012 Hash Bash.


Everyone Murders

May 3rd, 2016 at 8:44 AM ^

(Acts like that guy ... .)

We probably shouldn't forget that there's likely an effect or two in line there, with a good tube amp.  Something like a BD-2 or TS-9 in the chain, and maybe a touch of compression and a smidge of noise gate plus some reverb.  At this level of production they may be rack equivalents, but you get the gist.

Agreed that it's nice tone, but it's not atypical for a Telecaster.  Check out Albert Collins (the "Master of the Telecaster") or Billy Gibbons for other examples of Tele growl. 

Everyone Murders

May 3rd, 2016 at 11:12 AM ^

Yes, effects can be either bad or misused.  It still sounds like they are at play here. 

What I'm saying is that it is very likely that he used an overdrive pedal to obtain that sound, and also used some reverb and compression.  So long as they are used intelligently, they can help create the tone most of us enjoy - and do it without causing the ear damage a Twin Reverb cranked up to distortion yields. 

And lots of great artists have used an overdrive pedal to obtain harmonic distortion without making it sound like that have a Big Muff dimed out.  (That sounds obscene - both as a sentence, and when someone has a Big Muff dimed out.)  The whole point of an overdrive pedal (like the BD-2 or the TS-9 I referenced) is that the effect is relatively subtle.  The idea being to emulate tube breakup.

Anyway, I'll bet you an internet beer that there is an overdrive pedal (or rack effect) in play here, helping to contribute to that tone. 


May 3rd, 2016 at 11:18 AM ^

On a production like The Voice? Dollars to donuts it's something closer to an AxeFX with an amp and cabinet simulator at the end. Too much can go wrong with a tube amp and a tube screamer live when you have exactly 4 minutes before the next commercial.

If you're in Chicago, I'll bet you a real beer.

Everyone Murders

May 3rd, 2016 at 11:36 AM ^

But it's a bet I'd likely lose.  You're right, in a "fakey live" production like this, its very likely tube and cabinet emulation.  In fairness, though, it's likely that there's an overdrive emulation in the mix.

I'm not a pro-sound guy by a long shot, but your core point is spot on.  This ain't a "concert" and the "tone" we're hearing is very likely emulated.  I concede to your argument.

I'm not in Chicago, but treat yourself to a Daisy Cutter. 


May 3rd, 2016 at 1:08 PM ^

Whoa whoa whoa, I'm not saying he's not using effects, of course he is. But effects don't make a shit guitar sound that deep and clean. The depth and clarity of tone at such a high gain tells me he's got a very well balanced pickup and his rig is well set up before he even touches pedalboard. But way to turn a quick compliment into a big semantic debate.

UM Fan from Sydney

May 3rd, 2016 at 8:42 AM ^

LOL, no. I hate those things. I'm not saying the guitar player guy has no skills. The guy can clearly play. I just don't like guitars very much. I feel that it is the most overrated instrument on the planet. Besides, when playing a national anthem (singers are guilty of this, too, sometimes), don't go crazy with it like that guy did. When it comes to national anthems, just keep it simple.


May 2nd, 2016 at 11:46 PM ^

For a good few years a few friends and I would go to Blue Tractor every Thursday night to watch his blues cover band play, I recommended it to everyone with ears. His voice was amazing and his guitar skills even better. They would play everything from Hendrix to Allman Bros and his solos were always original and spectacular. Then Mash got really popular, they stopped playing there...and now I feel old.  


May 3rd, 2016 at 9:39 AM ^

Thursday night blue tractor was my go to date night in college.  Food is pretty good and for some reason nobody really knew about MASH or Laith so everyone loved it. 

Guy would come into Zingermans all the time, usually pretty blazed.  Super nice guy and its great to see him doing so well.

kevin holt

May 3rd, 2016 at 12:13 AM ^

I love playing that song on guitar. So relaxing and soothing. And if I were leaving a lover it'd be perfect. But isn't it pretty light on the lyrics? I don't imagine a show called the Voice would be okay with a minute or 2 between lines of singing but then again I've never seen it.


May 3rd, 2016 at 12:50 AM ^

Saw him up in Petoskey at an ensemble show, didn't know him. Frumpy lookin' bearded dude comes out with a guitar, we're not sure what to expect. And then that voice... Damn. Dude's got pipes. Between him and Josh Davis last year, great exposure for Michigan artists.

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May 3rd, 2016 at 1:24 AM ^

I've really enjoyed watching Laith this season on The Voice. It is a testament to his talent that a blues singer can last so long on a show that is dominated by younger voters.

There is another U of M singer on the show right now. Daniel Passino is/was is a member of the Glee and acapella team at Michigan. His style is different, but he is also very talented.

I Heart Huckleby

May 3rd, 2016 at 2:48 AM ^

Have seen Laith countless times live around Ann Arbor and he played a friend's wedding a couple years ago, so I've definitely been following the season closely and voting to help a brother out. Was curious how long he'd stick around since his guitar chops are where his bread is buttered, but happy to see he's held his own vocally so far. He'll need lots of help as it becomes more of a social media/popularity contest down the stretch and the competition gets stiffer, but he could very well make top 4 or 5.

My favorite Laith story was being at Gracie's in 2005 the night the Michigan softball team was playing for the National Championship. We were half listening to the band and half watching the game. When Samantha Findlay hit the walk-off game winner to seal the deal Laith was in the middle of a guitar solo (might have been "Black Dog" or "Fat Bottomed GIrls" or Whipping Post,") and without missing a step he flowed into an extended riff based on The Victors, the crowd sang along for a chorus, then he slid right back to continuing a face-melting solo.

It was a most ripping victory.


May 3rd, 2016 at 5:50 AM ^

I used to go check him out on dollar beer nights at bar Louie (Wednesday's I believe). He also played during dinner of a wedding I was in a few years back. The guy is super cool and genuine and I'm happy he's finally getting his shot.


May 3rd, 2016 at 8:07 AM ^

This is one of my brother's good friends... This guy is amazing. I'm so glad he's making it as far as he is as he is a great musician, but an even greater human being! Go Laith!!


May 3rd, 2016 at 8:35 AM ^

I saw him at a "guitar greats" show at the ark last summer and he blew the other 3 "nationally recognized guitar wizards" off the stage. Laith can truly shred and I'm glad he is finally getting some recogniztion. Hard to believe somebody that talented has been stuck playing at Weber's every Thursday night, but that is the music biz.


May 3rd, 2016 at 9:16 AM ^

I've had the good fortune of being able to see Laith play locally 3-4x/week for most of the last 10+ years, and usually at no cost to me.   I've seen a lot of music over the years, and Laith is without a doubt one of the more talented musicians I've ever seen perform.
I don't anticipate being able to see him for free much longer, and that's OK with me, he's worth the price of admission, whatever it is.


May 3rd, 2016 at 9:26 AM ^

He was a senior when I was a freshman.  He fronted a band...I think it was called Blue Vinyl.  They used to headline Commstock fundraisers, which were the shit.  Kids would come to CHS from miles around, get stoned and listen to the bands.  They stopped putting them on for liability reasons.  Good times.  "In my day...."


May 3rd, 2016 at 10:30 AM ^

He opened for BB King a few years back. I hadn't heard of him at that point.

All respect and love to BB, who was great. But Laith was a goddamn revelation.