Meeting Jonny Lang
by Darren Caffery
Sometimes, you are just in the right place at the right time. It's called "SynchronicitY"
I've always been a lover of the blues guitar and the musical styles of artists like BB King, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Eric Clapton, and the bad boy rock & roll blues sound of the early Rolling Stones and the Allman Brothers. It was 1997 and I was doing my usual weekly CD browsing in a small local music store in Point Pleasant Beach NJ when I heard this awesome tune playing throughout the store. When I asked who it was that was playing, the clerk told me the band was "Kid Jonny Lang and the Big Bang". The song was called "Changes". I was also surprised to learn that this very talented, raspy voiced vocalist and blues guitarist known as Kid Jonny Lang was only 16 years old! I bought the CD called "Smokin" and after listening to, and loving every song, I knew I'd be hearing more from this "Kid" named Jonny Lang. Shortly thereafter, a song called "Lie to Me" from his subsequent CD started hitting the local airwaves.
I waited patiently for Jonny Lang to tour the east coast and finally on a tour to promote the "Lie to Me" CD in 1998, he came to Atlantic City, NJ. He shared the bill with Buddy Guy in a small venue in the Trump Marina Hotel & Casino. I managed to obtain a 2nd row seat where I remained mesmerized through the entire show by Lang's soulful yet energetic vocals and guitar work. The concert rocked as I played air guitar from the 2nd row. The crowd, stage and lights quickly faded away as my eyes closed. My feet stomped, my head rocked back and forth, and I quickly became lost in my own cerebral electric jam from the rhythm of Lang's guitar. My brain pulsed with adrenaline from the continuous stream of electrical impulses that resonated from his intense vocals and guitar licks. I've been to over 200 concerts including some very large scale world tours, however the intimacy of the Atlantic City venue, along with the intense high energy and master talent of Jonny Lang keep this show ranked among my top 10 concerts of all time.
"Wander This World" was released shortly thereafter and only confirmed the musical and lyrical genius of Lang with "Before You Hit the Ground" and the ballad "Breakin Me". In addition to the soulful anthem, "Breakin Me", my other all time Lang favorite "The Levee" is also from this CD. Although he didn't write it, this song rocks and is a great song to hear Lang play live.
I had to wait quite a few years for my next Jonny Lang concert. He finally made his way back east for the Bethlehem MusikFest in PA, playing on August 7th, 2002 on an outside stage along the Lehigh River. It was a beautiful, star filled summer night and the band played at a temporary outdoor venue called "RiverPlace" which gets constructed just for the festival. Waiting on the line before the concert, I met a few energetic Jonny Lang fans and we chatted for a bit about some previous Lang concerts. Kathy and her husband Mike had traveled out to PA from Ohio while Kristen and her mom June, traveled all the way from North Carolina. Kristen and her mom had seen 15 shows from Lang's current tour. After some chatting about music and the band, we had an opportunity to meet David Eiland outside the venue before the show. Eiland was very personable and we chatted for a while about the rigors touring and our musical tastes.. This was also the start of friendships with Kristin and her mom, June, Kathy and her husband Michael.
As if the show itself wasn't awesome enough (it ROCKED!), we later had an opportunity to talk some more with David and to later meet Jonny. It was a totally unexpected and totally awesome night. We left with our tickets signed by Eiland and Lang and we snapped a few pictures. Lang was also very personable. I told Lang about that first Atlantic City show and he soon told me his tour schedule just added another show in Atlantic City again on September 28th at Trump Taj Mahal. Synchronicity in Action! I told him I'd see him in AC.
Kristin, June, Kathy and Mike ended up coming to Atlantic City for the weekend of the September concert and my friend Tom and I met them a few hours before the show. We managed to obtain first row seats for the show which enabled me to take some great concert photos. After another very energetic and highly charged concert, I got to briefly meet Lang's keyboardist and very talented songwriter, Bruce McCabe in addition to Jonny's awesome lead guitarist, Paul Diethelm (check out the message board for the other band Paul plays in, Deep Seven). Tom and I then took our visiting fans and David Eiland from the band for a midnight stroll on the 'world famous' Atlantic City boardwalk on the way to Los Amigos Mexican Cantina. After a nice dinner and a few pitchers of famous Los Amigos frozen margaritas, we all ended a great evening with an early morning jitney ride back to the Taj Mahal Hotel/Casino.
JONNY LANG CONCERT PICS