Buddy Guy (above) and Jonny Lang (below) | courtesy photos
Blues music, more than perhaps any other genre, is full of stories of living fast and dying young, broke or unappreciated by the masses. This week’s Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang concert at the Township Auditorium showcases two of the style’s survivors, men who have made it to where they are despite the odds.
Buddy Guy’s career began in the late ’50s with a move from Louisiana to Chicago, where he became a session guitarist at the now legendary Chess records and played on sides from Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, Muddy Waters and Sonny Boy Williamson, as well as his own early solo recordings. His late ’60s albums for Chess and then Vanguard Records were inspirations for subsequent British blues disciples, most notably Eric Clapton. At Guy’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2005, Slowhand testified, “He was for me what Elvis was probably like for other people.”
The blues are a fickle business when it comes to record sales, however, and even with almost an album a year for a good 20-year stretch — most released by overseas labels and later repackaged by indie blues imprints like Alligator or Blind Pig — Guy hadn’t really received much in the way of awards or industry recognition. In the ’70s his work with Junior Wells attracted the electrified end of the folk music boom, and the pair also recorded several albums of acoustic blues, showcasing Guy’s skills in both cases as a stinging, soulful guitarist with a singular style.
But it wasn’t until the ’90s that Guy began to reap the accolades that are so commonly associated with him today. His first three albums for Silvertone — the 1991 comeback smash Damn Right, I’ve Got the Blues (featuring Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck), 1993’s Feels Like Rain and 1994’s Slippin’ In — all earned Grammy Awards. He’s been on the front line of lauded blues greats ever since, and rightly so. 2013’s Rhythm & Blues, a double album that finds the guitarist in fine form yet again, includes guest appearances by everyone from Kid Rock and Keith Urban to Beth Hart (on a smoking hot “What You Gonna Do About Me”), Gary Clark Jr. and Aerosmith.
Jonny Lang, on the other hand, burst upon the blues and rock scene with the 1997 debut Lie To Me when he was only 16. He followed up that multi-platinum hello with Wander This World in 1998. Both albums are full of the soul-inflected sound that Lang is known for — he’s as much a great blues and soul singer as he is a blistering guitarist, and it’s on songs such as “Still Rainin’” that he shows off both to the greatest effect.
The Jonny Lang story could have become another tale of music industry excess, but he took a different turn at the proverbial crossroads in 2000, becoming a Christian and putting a stop to what he describes in interviews as a period of alcoholism and drug abuse. The newly saved and sober Lang poured out his soul into some powerful gospel blues on 2006’s Turn Around, which hit number one on the Billboard Christian album chart. Since then Lang has been a fixture on the blues scene with 2009’s Live at the Ryman, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Blues Album chart, and last year’s Fight For My Soul, which hit the top spot on the same list.
Thus these two men are foils and allies, frequent tourmates who took different routes — and rode different sounds — to enduring success. Guy’s long road to recognition, respect, and reward as an elder statesman of the genre came from resilience and mounting influence, while Lang’s early accolades and inevitable fall from grace were arrested by his refusal to become yet another blues tragedy. Each is, in his own way, enjoying what could be seen as the pinnacle of their respective careers.
Buddy Guy and Jonny Lang play Township Auditorium on Saturday, Feb. 8. The Township is at 1703 Taylor St. Doors open at 7 p.m.; music starts at 8 p.m.; Tickets are $34-$79. Visit thetownship.org for more information.
Bluegrass, Bidding, and BBQ
Join The Palladium Society Thursday, October 23rd from 7-10 p.m. for its 11th annual silent auction, featuring music by The Mustache Brothers and catering by Bourbon and The Oak Table. Tickets are $30 at the door and include admission, drinks, and food. Get yours online now!
3LAU on Sunday, October 26th and the Unofficial Skrillex Mothership Tour After-Party on the 27th. More information and tickets for both can be found here. VIP tables available.
The Other Place at Trustus Theatre
Juliana Smithton is a successful neurologist whose life seems to be coming unhinged. A mystery unfolds as fact blurs with fiction, past collides with present and the elusive truth of Juliana’s mental health boils to the surface in The Other Place, running at Trustus Theatre October 17th through November 1st. There will be a talk-back following the matinee on October 19th. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling the box office at 803-254-9732.
King Lear in Finlay Park
October 16th-18th and 22nd-25th, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company presents William Shakespeare’s King Lear. All performances held at the Finlay Park Ampitheatre at 7:30 PM. For tickets and more information, click here or call 803-665-2000.
Four Miles, Twelve Doughnuts
Winston’s Wish aims to increase knowledge and understanding of children with autism, and you can help by participating in the 4.donut Race on October 25th. Start at Edventure Children’s Museum, run 2 miles to Krispy Kreme, eat 12 doughnuts, and run back! Registration is required and can be done here before October 23rd at 5 p.m.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Local business is searching for new associates who are looking for a fun environment to earn great wages. Great position for college students/recent graduates. Must be well-mannered with excellent customer service skills/work ethic/ability to lift heavy items/must have valid Driver’s License. Call 803-376-4884 or email resume: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cupcake now hiring a closing manager. Must be outgoing, customer service focused, able to work evenings and weekends. Apply in person. 1213 Lincoln Street, Columbia SC 29201. freshcupcakes.com
Currently seeking a friendly & detail-oriented individual for an Administrative Assistant/Data Entry Clerk position on our Administrative Office team. Primary responsibilities include: Data entry, process incoming & outgoing mail, good communication skills required. Contact: email@example.com.