October 8, 2015 Jonny Lang Uplifts Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center West Hampton Beach, NY 10-3-15
Not many can say that they attained a platinum-selling status as well as a Grammy while still in their teens. At the tender age of twelve, North Dakotan Jonny Lang began to play guitar, and thus his journey began. Notably referred to as a guitar prodigy, he released his first album, Smokin’, in 1995 under the band name Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Band. Growing fast, he released his first solo album at the age of fifteen, Lie To Me, in 1997 and it went platinum. His second solo release, Wander This World, in 1998 earned him a Grammy Nomination, and opened his talents up to the entire world. Continuing his career, Lang went on to put out 2006’s Turn Around, affording him his first Grammy Award in 2007 for Best Rock Or Rap Gospel Album, all before even turning thirty . Now at the age of thirty-four, Lang found his way up and down a variety of roads, some good, some bad, but coming out a proud husband and father. Performing and writing music on a consistent basis, Lang is not only a force to be reckoned with his incredible Blues-style guitar playing, but he also has a unique, smooth, yet sometimes raspy voice, with a great deal of range to his vocals.
Now in 2015, following an excellent co-headlining early Summer tour with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Lang returns to the road for more dates well into December. On Saturday, October 3rd, 2015, he returned to Long Island, New York for an evening at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center in the picturesque town of Westhampton Beach, NY. On this very cool, early Fall evening the theater filled to almost full capacity with an audience made up of all ages, including the very young, about the same age that Lang started his guitar playing.
Joining Lang on stage is comprised of Court Clemet (rhythm guitar), James Anton (bass), Dwan Hill (keyboards), and Barry Alexander (drums), an assembly of musicians ready to rock and roll with passion. Opening the show with a song from Lang’s latest release, 2013’s Fight For My Soul, was “Blew Up (The House),” then “Don’t Stop (For Anything),” from 2006’s Turn Around. As the audience was picking up their enthusiasm, Lang and his band went into “A Quitter Never Wins” from Lang’s first solo album, 1997’s Lie To Me. With a bust of cheers at the first few notes that Lang played on his guitar, the audience greeted the song “Turn Around” from the release of the same title. Awed by Lang’s ability on guitar, by song’s end several of the audience members gave Lang his first standing ovation of the night. Humbled by the reception, Lang took this opportunity to say, “We love you guys so much and thanks for coming out on this cool evening, dare I use the W word? It’s starting to feel like winter is upon us!”
Playing on with songs such as “Red Light” from 2003’s Long Time Coming, the band seamlessly went into “Everything Is Gonna Be Alright,” which, midway through, Lang encouraged the audience to sing along. They were happy to oblige this request, some putting their hands in the air, others swaying in their seats. Lang then asked the audience, “How is everyone feeling?” which received “woo’s” and cheers, before he jammed his way into a Stevie Wonder cover song, “Living For The City.” Adding his own flair to the track, the original funky feel bled through provoking many audience members to stand up, dance, and sing along. However, midway through the song, the band stopped playing to allow just Lang and keyboardist Hill to partake in a cross-playing solo which led Hill into an all out jamming solo of his own. Slowly, the band joined back in and created an excellent little jam session that had the audience begging for more.
Bringing it back to his original work, they then played “The Great Day,” off of Turn Around, and then a song from Wander This World, “Angel Of Mercy,” which brought many back to the days when they were first introduced to Lang. Then there was “We Are The Same,” from his latest release closing out the main set before Lang graciously said, “We love you all so much! Thank You! God bless you and good night!”
With everyone in attendance standing, cheering, and screaming for more, Lang swiftly returned to the stage, but this time without the accompaniment of his band. Playing on his electric guitar to a cover song by Muddy Waters, “40 Days and 40 Nights,” his musical inflections were beautifully heartfelt throughout the rendition. Lang then switched to an acoustic guitar for the first time during the evening and said, “You guys have been so good to us,” and an audience member yells out, “We love you Jonny!” to which Lang reciprocated the sentiment with a nod of his head and smiled. Lang then played a slow, soulful beginning to the song “Breakin’ Me.” Staying with his acoustic guitar, he then went into the title track from Lie To Me to which the audience went wild. At the peak of excitement, midway through this song, the band joined back on stage again and Lang went back to his electric guitar one last time. Lighting up the theater, they closed out the evening’s performance with a bang. Humbled and soaking in the applause, Lang and his band thanked the audience and waved goodbye smiling ear to ear as they took a well-deserved bow.
It should not go without saying, with Lang playing guitar solo’s throughout each song during the evening performance, it is hard not to take note of how deeply into his playing he got. With the honesty and true emotion, fans enjoyed getting lost in those moments with Lang as well. Often looking to the sky as he played, Lang’s facial expressions told everyone how much this musician loves what he does. Lang and his band continue on tour with shows here in the US continuing till December 9th, so do not miss a chance to bear witness to one of the saviors of modern Blues Rock.