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Cory Wong: “Joe Satriani told me, ‘You’re the funkiest guitar player around, and I’d love to do something with you.’ I decided to call his bluff!“

Cory Wong
(Image credit: Jason Koerner/Getty Images)

Figuring in various live recordings, studio albums both electric and acoustic, and a collaborative set with pianist Jon Batiste, rhythm guitar master Cory Wong issued an astonishing seven albums in 2020. 

No, strike that – he also squeaked in his eighth record of the year with the release of The Striped Album, a wild and woolly, guest-packed collection of disco-funk originals.  

“I didn’t plan on doing so many albums when [2020] started,” Wong says, “but as I like to say, ‘Creativity is a vine that blossoms and flowers; it isn’t a gas tank that empties.’ The more creative you are, the more creativity flows from you.” 

In normal times, Wong’s dance card is usually full. Between pursuing his solo career, he performs with two bands, funk superstars Vulfpeck and the Fearless Flyers, and fits in as many sessions as he can. The COVID pandemic has kept him homebound in Minneapolis, but he’s making the best of the situation. 

“Many people work from home these days, and I’m just like them,” he says. “Only, when I sit down at my computer, I have a guitar on my lap and I write music.” 

The Striped Album features cameos by a few of Wong’s guitar heroes; R&B legend David T. Walker contributes graceful licks to The Pinky Harp and British jazz ace Tom Misch provides cheeky, squawking leads on Smooth Move. Joe Satriani’s supersonic soloing sends the aptly named earth-mover Massive into another dimension. 

As Wong recalls, Satch’s appearance came about following a Zoom chat. “Joe told me, ‘You’re the funkiest guitar player around, and I’d love to do something with you,’” he says. “Now, people say that all the time and nothing ever happens, but I decided to call Joe’s bluff. For years I’ve had Massive sitting in my computer. 

“It was basically my lead-rhythm guitar, but I had no idea what a solo guitar should do. I sent it to Joe, and two days later, he sent it back with his scorching leads all over it. It’s like he figured out just what the song needed. It was everything I could have wanted. He just kills on it.”

  • Cory Wong's The Striped Album is out now via Roundwound Media.