The (Blues) Future is Now

Fargo, North Dakota will probably become more famous, not because of the wonderful, yet macabre movie titled after it, but because of the sure stardom of its young bluesman born there, Johnny Langsworth, at the very start of 1981 Well, unfortunately for Fargo, his family moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota several years later.

Still North Dakota played another important part of young Johnny's life, where as a 12 year old, he attended his first regular concert there featuring the Bad Medicine Blues Band, and was enthralled by the guitarist Ted Larson. This same guitarist hooked up to teach the youngster, guitar (he was 13 when he got his first "axe") and soon the Master was mastered. to the point that Mr. Langsworth took a new name and took over the band, naming it: "Kid Jonny Lang and the Big Bang". The band with Ted now playing rhythm recorded a first local album, Smokin', that sold 25,000 area wide.

His career really took off (and he took off the "Kid") with the 1996 A & M album, Lie to Me, produced by Minnesota's David Z (Fine Young Cannibals, Prince) who brings out the best of the youthful energy, vigor, and obvious osmosis of the self mentoring done listening to his 12 bar blue predecessors, like B.B. King, Buddy Guy, Kenny Neal and Luther Allison. Working on this album, (even with a few cuts sat in by his old band mate, Ted Larsen) by playing and writing are varied older, experienced journeyed musicians.

The one who penned the mournful, "The Darker Side", pool hall boogie, "Rack 'Em', and the title track is their Keyboard man, Bruce McCabe (4 albums with "the Hoopsnakes"). Rhythm guitarist Kevin Bowe (The Revelators) and Billy Franze helped similarly and the drummer, Rob Stupka, has worked with not only Earl King and Gary Primich, but also the late Luther Allison. The other keyboardist, Ricky Peterson toured with David Sanborn for Warner. The harp player not only worked with Bonnie Raitt, but had his own Lamont Cranston Band.

The final extra touch is the Memphis studio location that gave it that special sound provided in their rendition of Syl Johnson's Back for a Taste of Your Love, Ike Turner's shuffle, Matchbox as well as the Icepicker Albert Collins great sound in his wife's song, "There's Gotta Be a Change." Songs like Tinsley Ellis' "A Quitter Never Wins," allows Lang to delightfully wallop us with his explosive delivery. But, more significant is his co-authoring two romantic songs with Dennis Morgan, "When I Come to You" and "Missing Your Love." It is more amazing that he is renown for his vocal power, as well as his string manipulation.

This sample of one of his tours a short while after this release is also a guide to where the Blues action is:

  • Mid-South Music Festival,  Memphis   TN; April 4th, 1998
  • Casino Ballroom,  Catalina Island   CA; May 5th, 1998
  • Sandy Point Park,   Annapolis   MD;May 9th, 1998
  • Jubilee! JAM,   Jackson   MS; May 15, 1998
  • Pensacola Springfest,   Pensacola,   FL; May 16, 1998
  • Bunkers,   Minneapolis   MN May 17, 1998
  • KC101 Show,   New Haven   CT May 31, 1998
  • KMXV Show,   Kansas City   MO; July 5, 1998
  • Moondance Jam,   Walker MN; July 9, 1998
  • Minnesota State Fair,   St. Paul MN; September 9, 1998

The joke concerning his being able to sing "Good Morning Little School Girl" being the only one that ever sang it as not having been potentially guilty of committing statutory rape is less apt as he presently tours as a young adult. He has jammed onstage with many of his personal heroes, Lonnie Brooks, Jimmy Thackery, Buddy Guy, but one of the favorites, Luther Allison that used to join him, could no longer after fatal Cancer in 1997. The saddened Jonny wound up playing his guts out in a barefoot tribute at a concert where he learned of his friend's passing.

He followed his 1997 album, Lie to Me, the next year with grammy nominee, Wander this World. 1999 Jonny was honored at the White House for the Clintons. A more rhythm and blues oriented album was released in October of 2003, Long Time Coming. He did a single of Edgar Winter's "Dying to Live."

Though once adamantly against Christianity, in 2001, after the drug and alcohol demons needed riddance, Jonny had as he said he had the "craziest experience I've ever had. ... God just literally introduced himself to me. It's cool; I'm glad He did it that way, I'm a person who is very skeptical, and I needed something like that to make me understand it."

In 2004, he helped Eric Clapton raise money at the Crossroads Guitar Festival for his Caribbean located Crossroads Centre Antigua. Jonny won his first Grammy for his 2006 Gospel themed CD, Turn Around.

He has toured with not only blues artists, Buddy Guy, B.B. King, and the Blues Travelers, but with rockers like the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Jeff Beck and Sting.

He was married to actress Haylie Johnson on June 8, 2009, and he has been juggling family life with extensive recording and touring.

Now we can see the Blues Legends that have left us -- continue on, in his own way, here in this amazing musician with his current line up of: Barry Alexander from Minneapolis, MN -- on drums
James Anton from Minneapolis, MN -- on bass guitar
Akil Thompson from Nashville, TN -- on rhythm guitar
Dwan Hill from Nashville, TN -- on keyboardss
Missi Hale from Los Angeles, CA -- on background vocals

Discography:

1995 Smokin' (Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang)
1997 Lie to Me, No. 44 (Billboard 200)
1998 Wander This World, No. 28 (Billboard 200)
2003 Long Time Coming, No. 17 (Billboard 200)
2006 Turn Around, No. 35 (US Billboard 200), No. 1 (Billboard Christian Album)
2009 Live at the Ryman, No. 2 (Billboard Blues Album)
2013 Fight for My Soul, No. 50 (Billboard 200), No. 1 (Billboard Blues Album), No. 2 (Billboard Christian Album)

Guest appearances

1997 A Very Special Christmas 3 album by various artists, performed on track "Santa Claus is Back in Town"
1998 Blues Brothers 2000 original soundtrack by various artists, performed on track "634–5789"
1998 Heavy Love album by Buddy Guy, performed on track "Midnight Train"
1999 Loud Guitars, Big Suspicions album by Shannon Curfman, performed on multiple tracks and co-wrote "Love Me Like That"
1999 For Love of the Game original soundtrack, performed on track "Paint It Black"
2000 It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues original cast recording, performed on tracks "Someone Else is Steppin' In" and "The Thrill is Gone"
2000 This Time Around album by Hanson, performed on tracks "You Never Know," "This Time Around" and "Hand In Hand"
2000 Milk Cow Blues album by Willie Nelson, performed on tracks "Rainy Day Blues" and "Ain't Nobody's Business"
2001 Been a Long Time album by Double Trouble, performed on track "Ground Hog Day" with Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar
2001 Ash Wednesday Blues album by Anders Osborne, performed on tracks "Snake Bit Again", "Soul Livin'", "Me & Lola", "Aim Way High", and "Improvise"
2004 All Things New album by Steven Curtis Chapman, performed on track "Only Getting Started"
2004 Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival, performed on track Give Me Up Again
2005 Possibilities album by Herbie Hancock, performed on track "When Love Comes to Town" with Joss Stone
2007 A Deeper Level album by Israel Houghton, performed on track "You Are Not Forgotten"
2009 Oh Happy Day album by various artists, performed on track "I Believe" with the Fisk Jubilee
Singers Lang performed the song live on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno April 16, 2009.
2009 Lines, Vines and Trying Times album by Jonas Brothers, performed on track "Hey Baby"
2010 Up Close album by Eric Johnson, performed on track "Austin"
2010 What We Want, What We Get album by Dave Barnes, performed on track "What I Need"
2010 6 String Theory album by Lee Ritenour, performed on track "Why I Sing The Blues" with B.B. King and Vince Gill
2010 Memphis Blues album by Cyndi Lauper, performed on tracks "How Blue Can You Get?" and "Crossroads"
2010 Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics of All Time album by Santana, performed on track "I Ain't Superstitious"
2010 Eric Clapton: Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010, album by various artists, performed on tracks "Five Long Years" and "Miss You" with Buddy Guy and Ronnie Wood
2011 ZZ Top: A Tribute from Friends, album by various artists, performed on track "Sharp Dressed Man" as the M.O.B. with Mick Fleetwood, Steven Tyler and John McVie
2012 Featuring Mato Nanji, album by Indigenous, performed on track "Free Yourself, Free Your Mind"
2012 Show Me Love, album by V Reyes, performed on track "Man Enough (feat. Tim & Jonny Lang)"
2013 Played golf at Quail Hollow in Concord, Ohio (Near Cleveland, Ohio).

Filmography and television appearances

1997 Disney Channel's In Concert
1998 Blues Brothers 2000
1998 The Drew Carey Show episode "In Ramada Da Vida" (cameo)
2004 Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2004
2008 Live at Montreaux 1999 DVD
2010 Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival 2010

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