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.
Delicious Downtown Breakfast
Tony’s is open for breakfast every day from 7:30-10:30! Conveniently located on Washington St. right off Main. Stop in for something filling and delicious before work! Follow us for updates on specials.
Accepting Applications for Shakespeare’s Kidz!
Students ages 10-16 are invited to join South Carolina Shakespeare’s new youth company, with classes running September 20th-December 11th followed by a final performance. Learn and hone audition skills, monologues, and scenes from Shakespeare and modern works! Contact Katie Mixon with questions about scholarships and applications: PKatieMixon@gmail.com.
Make Your Own Beer and Wine!
Come get started on your “liquid hobby” and help us celebrate our 46th year in the Columbia area. Bet Mar Liquid Hobby Shop: 736 St. Andrews Road.
Back to School Tattoo Specials
Magnum Ink is offering 1/2 off all tattoos for students over 18 as well as 2 for $60 on letters or numbers for state employees. 1405 Rushmore Road, Suite B, right off of Broad River.
A two-day outdoor art and crafts show celebrating its 38th year. Being held on September 5 & 6, 2014, Click for details
Not Your Typical Greek Restaurant
Ariana’s in West Columbia serves up delicious all-natural, low carb dishes, as well as homemade bread and baklava. Come try the best salad dressing in town! Location info and hours here.
SEARCH FREE TIMES
Company seeking carpenters, plumbers, masons work is year around with a 40 year old company. Starting pay is $10.00 but experienced individuals will be compensated accordingly. Must have a clean driving record and must bring a copy of your driving record to the interview. Please call 803-865-1200.
U.S. Security Associates
Now hiring immediately for armed and unarmed security officers. WE TRAIN YOU! Columbia & surrounding areas. ussecurityassociates.com
Pool Cleaning-Full and part time available. Must have a clean driving record, be organized and have a professional appearance. Starting Pay is $10.00 per hr, please call for an interview, please bring a copy of your Driving record and a list of all past employers with duration of employment listed as well as telephone numbers for references. Cal 803-865-1200
Real Estate Spotlight
Mungo Homes. Celebrating 60 years of our family building for your family. mungo.com