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 bandmate, 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 reknown 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 potentially guilty of committing statuatory 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."
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,
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.
Now we can see the Blues Legends that have left us -- continue on, in his own way, here in this amazing musician.