Sunny War On World Cafe

Feb 20, 2018
Originally published on February 20, 2018 2:57 pm

There is a lot that's disarming about Sunny War. She has that kind of raw, rare talent of a guitarist that stops you in your tracks. It's difficult to describe, but somewhere between the rooted blues of Robert Johnson, the lightning, plucky folk of Richard Thompson and the dexterous wonder of the massively underrated Jack Rose is a good place to start.

Sunny's demeanor is disarming, too. On the one hand, there's this totally rooted air about her when she's playing music and a depth and wisdom to her writing that makes it sound like she's lived a million years. But she's also quite young. When we talk a lot of laughter — maybe nervous laughter — creeps into unexpected places.

Sunny's in her twenties and has been playing guitar since she was so small she couldn't fully hold the instrument upright (she would lay it flat on her lap like it was a slide.) As a teen, Sunny busked on Venice Beach, Calif. where she had a foot-tall mohawk and hung out with people she calls "gutter punks." We talk about the drugs that were part of that scene, and the near-death experience that landed Sunny in rehab and a sober living facility. We also talk about her childhood, specifically moving around from place to place and how she adopted the man of the house role to help out her single mom.

Hear the complete session in the player above.

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