I had the pleasure and honor of attending the Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang concert last night at the State Theater here in Minnesota (www.hennepintheatretrust.org/our-theatres/state-theatre). Buddy Guy was…. entertaining. There is no question that he is talented. And his keyboardist was incredible. But to me, he was no Jonny Lang.
When I was young, I had a friend who told me I had to come see this guy she and her sister knew play the guitar because he was pretty dang good. I never did go with her but a few years later, a friend and I went to an outdoor fundraising concert featuring GB Leighton. They announced one of the opening acts, Jonny Lang. Although by now I had heard some of this music from his Kid Jonny Lang and The Big Bang album
this was the first time I saw him perform live… and I was hooked.
Jonny contorted his face while playing the guitar in ways I had never seen. I was mesmerized by the intense feelings that came through while he was performing. Watching his face when he played the guitar was a lesson in passion and pure abandon. You could tell he lost himself in the music and it was obvious how much he enjoyed playing the guitar and being together with his band. Jonny Lang has always seemed appreciative of other musicians and their talent and has never thought twice about letting them have their moments to shine just as much as he did.
After that first concert, I bought all of his albums. Lie To Me, Wander This World…. I listened to his songs countless times on repeat.
At an age when it was cool to be into rap and rock, Jonny taught me about soul and blues. He opened a whole new world of sound to me. I went to see him perform every time he was playing in Minnesota. I became so familiar with his body movements, his voice, his facial expressions, his hands when he played the guitar, and his feeling that I felt like he was a good friend or family member. He was such a part of me and of my life growing up that I felt a great loss when he moved away. He had also released a gospel album and even though it was still him, it wasn’t the same for me.
(Photo Credit: http://www.pollstar.com/photo_details.aspx?ID=481953)
And then he came home. I watched him intently and got emotional as I always do with his music. It felt like a night spent with a dear, old friend. We just picked up where we left off.
(Photo credit Jim Brock Photography http://www.eyeonthemusic.com)