Monday, June 27, 2011

Music – Jonny Lang

Jonny Lang burst onto the music scene in January of 1997 when he released his debut album Lie to Me.  He was just fifteen years old.  He garnered immediate attention for his guitar playing and his ability to channel the Blues.  His late 1998 follow-up album, Wander this World, earned him a Grammy nomination at the age of seventeen.  It also earned him an invite to the 1999 Montreux Jazz Festival, perhaps the most prestigious music festival in the world.  Eric Clapton also invited Lang to perform at his Crossroads Music Festival.  The qualification to be invited – be an exceptional guitar player.

How does a teenage white boy from Fargo, North Dakota end up being the most celebrated new Blues musician to come along in quite a while?  When he was twelve his father took him to see a local band named Bad Medicine Blues Band.  That got him interested in playing the guitar and his dad hired one of the band members to teach Lang how to play.  Fast forward several months and Lang had not only joined the band, but it had been renamed after him.  He moved to Minneapolis, continued to improve, and signed a recording contract in 1996.

No less a Blues legend than B.B. King has said that Lang is not only for real, but has the ability to go to places that he (King) never reached.  At first King was skeptical.  He said he wanted to see the kid play for himself.  He invited him to a jam session and he said that when he saw Lang’s eyes roll into the back of his head as Lang played guitar he knew Lang wasn’t just pretending to play the Blues.

In fact, Lang may be one of the best live performers to come along in a long time.  If you want emotion and energy, Lang is your man.  His albums got him notice, but it was the people who saw him perform in person who really spread the word on his talent.  He came to Maine around this time, but I wasn’t able to go see him.  The next morning one of the DJs on the radio, who also hadn’t been able to see the show, asked someone to call in and tell him about it.  The guy that called was still working through the experience.  He said, “Lang just killed on stage.  Man, after he got done playing guitar there was nothing left of [the venue] except a smoking pit.”

Here are two examples of Lang performing live:

As he moved into his twenties, Lang first moved more toward Rock on his third album (the two songs in the videos above come from his third album) and then with his fourth album he actually incorporated Gospel music into the mix, too.  He’s now thirty and still playing his music his way.

I definitely recommend you give his music a try.  He is a truly talented player.

[Note: the links below are to CDs.  Links for the MP3 downloads are at the same page, so I did not include separate links for them here.]

     First Album            Second Album           Third Album            Fourth Album

     Fifth Album                   DVD

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