The day before Jonny Lang turned 16 he released his major-label debut. Later that year I also turned 16, and spent much of the summer blaring Lie To Me out of the surprisingly capable speakers of my red 1991 Pontiac Sunbird (affectionately called “The Fiery Chariot Of The Sun God” by its wonderful passengers). Ever since, I’ve felt a strange bond with Lang’s music. He happened to come around at the right time, and was just what I needed at the time. I had become pretty intensely into the blues, and it was great to have someone my age to look at as a role model.
Of course, my blues band recorded a 4-track demo, never played a show, and broke up a couple months after we got together. Lang on the other hand has put together an impressive career. Flying under the radar mostly, he’s put out eight albums, five of them making it to the top 50 of the Billboard 200. He won a Grammy in 2007 and was nominated again in 2010. He’s been steadily touring as a solo act (this was my third or fourth time seeing him) and also joins the Experience Hendrix tours that feature guitar legends like Buddy Guy, Richard Thompson, and bassist Billy Cox who played with Hendrix in the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band Of Gypsys.
Lang has always been a supremely talented guitarist, earning praise from Prince who also wrote the song “I Am” featured on Lang’s Wander This World. He’s also a great singer, with a range that’s as startling today as it was when he was doing it as a teenager.
Saturday night’s performance was as good as I’ve seen Lang play. He featured some songs off his newest album, Signs, and I think “Bring Me Back Home” is one of his finest works to date. For someone who seems to have been born with all the talent in the world, it’s insane to see them continue to grow and get better. Lang has been impressing me for 20 years, and I have no doubt he will continue for a long time.