Blues guitarist Jonny Lang has been on the music scene for more than 20 years. The amazing thing is that this Grammy Award winner is only 36 years old. Lang will be making a stop at The Kent Stage on July 7th while he is out supporting his outstanding new album titled Signs, which will be released on September 8th.
Jonny spoke with NEO Music Scene to discuss his career, his new album and his upcoming appearance in Kent.
GD: First, I wanted to congratulate you on your new album. I got an advance download and I think it’s fantastic! I think “Last Man Standing” really stands out; what is your favorite track on the album?
JL: Thanks man! Wow, I don’t know. I look at it (the album) as one thing, but I really like how the song “Wisdom” turned out with the guitar tones and stuff like that. I’m pretty proud of this one all around.
GD: It’s been a few years since you put out some new music, why do you feel it was the right time to do it now?
JL: I don’t know. It’s just the cycle you go through. You don’t feel inspired to write anything and then it just turns on and you start writing music. Pretty soon, you have a bunch of songs to record. Usually once I record them, the song writing faucet shuts off and it takes a little while and then I’ll start writing again. I don’t have a plan or anything like that, it just kinda happens.
GD: Where did you record this new album?
JL: We recorded the fundamental tracks in LA and then all the overdubs and stuff we did in various places like Nashville.
GD: I read that you just got back from Russia not to long ago. How do those audiences compare to those in the US?
JL: It’s different! Different cultures respond in different ways. The main difference is that the US audiences want to be entertained, they look for the entertainment aspect of a performance. In Europe, it seems like they are just there to listen. It’s a much different vibe over there.
GD: You are going to be playing here in Kent in a couple of weeks, can we hear any tunes from the new album at this show?
JL: Yeah, we’ve got one or two we will be playing.
GD: Looking back on your career, what inspired you to play the blues at such a young age?
JL: My dad was friends with some musicians in my hometown and he took me to see their concert. That was my first live concert and when I first saw the guitar player, it was such a powerful sound to me that I thought, man I have to learn how to do that! I ended up taking guitar lessons from him and he’s the one who got me into all of those old blues guitar players.
GD: So you went back to all those early guys like Muddy Waters and Robert Johnson?
JL: Yeah! I started out mostly with Albert King and BB King. I brought him a Stone Temple Pilots album that I wanted to learn to play and he was like “Yeah, we’ll get to that but first I want to show you this stuff.”
GD: You have such a soulful voice; have you ever taken vocal lessons?
JL: I’ve not really taken lessons. I went to a guy to learn how to save my voice from doing five shows a week. I had some trouble losing my voice so I spent a couple of days with that guy and he fixed me right up!
GD: I saw you with the Experience Hendrix tour last year. What was that experience like touring with those guys?
JL: It was great. There were so many great guitarists on that tour and I learned a lot being out there and hanging with those guys.
GD: You and the legend Buddy Guy have toured together a few times, is there anyone else you would like to work or tour with?
JL: Oh man, Stevie Wonder and James Taylor would be my dream collaborations.
GD: Those would be great! I remember when you first came out on the scene; does it seem like you’ve been doing this for 20 years? What’s the thing you enjoy the most?
JL: It’s weird, it seems like a long time but then it doesn’t at the same time. I can not believe that it’s been over 20 years, it’s a very weird, very strange feeling. (laughs)
GD: What’s the thing that you enjoy most about playing?
JL: Just the feeling. I don’t know how to explain it but playing music takes me to this place and gives me a feeling that I don’t get anywhere else. I love the thought that the music is helping someone out. That’s kinda the main motivation for me and hopefully it’s inspiring.
GD: Besides your own concerts, what’s one of the best concerts that you’ve ever seen?
JL: I’d have to say the best show I’d ever seen would be Aerosmith. They were unbelievable. I was on tour with those guys back on the Nine Lives record and they were unbelieveable.
GD: Is there something you like to do on the road in your spare time?
JL: I like to play golf. I’m kinda a golf addict. That’s about the only thing I do besides play.
GD: When you come to Kent, you should check out Firestone Country Club, it’s one of the best courses around and it’s one of Tiger Woods’ favorite courses.
JL: If I could get on there, I’d play it!
GD: What can fans expect from your show?
JL: Material wise, we try to cover all of the records. We try to play one or two from every record. Then like you mentioned, we play one or two new ones. I’m biased, but the band I get to play with are the best musicians on the planet. They are unbelievable and I’m really lucky to have those guys.
GD: Jonny, I wish you well on your new album, I personally think it’s great. I’m looking forward to your show in Kent and we’ll see you soon!
JL: Awesome, man! Thank you so much!
Blues fans, rock fans, guitar fans. Do yourself a favor and check out Jonny Lang at the Kent Stage on July 7th. This is going to be a great show.
For tickets, go to www.thekentstage.org
For more information about Jonny Lang and his new album Signs go to www.jonnylang.com