The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Courtesy photo

White Mountain Boogie ‘N Blues Festival

When: Friday, Aug. 18, through Sunday, Aug. 20 (Jonny Lang plays Saturday)
Where: Benton’s Sugar Shack, 2010 Route 175, Thornton
Tickets: $40-$100 at

Blue return
Lang hits White Mountain Festival with new LP

By Michael Witthaus

 Bursting onto the scene with 1997’s Lie to Me, Jonny Lang was hailed as a teenage guitar prodigy and keeper of the blues flame. Lang didn’t follow a purist’s path, though; he rocked, rumbled and reflected musically into his 30s. He even made a Christian album after wrestling with personal demons and finding faith in the early 2000s.

Lang’s latest, Signs, should please fans of Lang’s earliest work. Due for September release, it’s a return to the spirit that had critics calling him the next Stevie Ray Vaughan. The new music will also fit nicely at the White Mountain Boogie ‘N Blues Festival, which Lang headlines on Aug. 19. 
“I did have a bit of a desire to try and tip the hat to some of the older blues guys,” Lang said in a recent phone interview. “I’d been listening to a lot of Howlin’ Wolf around that time, and I just felt it was right to do a record with raw guitars and more rough-sounding production.”
Thematically, Lang explores the topical on the title cut, written in the wake of a few tumultuous events a couple of years ago. 
“There’s been a crazy ambush of really dark stuff in the world … seeing it on the news,” he said.  “It couldn’t help but be a part of the songs that I was writing.”
“Bitter End” bemoans mankind making the same mistakes over and over, but Lang cautions that he’s not giving answers, just stating a problem. 
“I’ve only been on this Earth for 36 years,’” he said. “History ebbs and flows, nations rise and fall. I don’t really know what it would take to turn some of our issues around, but all we can do it just talk about it and how I feel about it in song and hopefully it will relate to people.”
Signs is still a moving target, including elements of funk and singer-songwriter reflection, the latter on “Bring Me Back Home,” a road-weary ballad. Now the father of five, Lang says touring “is the trickiest thing I have to do [and] there’s no balancing it, really. ... I try to make the best out of each day, because there is just no getting around that I have to leave.”
“Last Man Standing” is an outsized arena rocker co-written with producer Drew Ramsey. 
“Right when he started playing, it sounded like Foo Fighters to me ... the melody and  riff — and I love Foo Fighters,” Lang said in a preview video for the new record. 
“We finished it together and it was just very cool; I had never done anything like that before,” he said.
Along with shows to promote his new release, Lang continues to appear as part of Experience Hendrix, a tribute to the late guitarist. 
“I thought when they asked me, man, all of these guitar players in one venue cannot be a good idea — competing egos and stuff — but I was totally wrong,” he said. “It’s been so much fun to get to know some of the guys, to hang out and see these great guitar players do what they do, and an honor to be asked to be a part of it by the Hendrix family.”
Lang said he was “already way in with Jimi” when asked to participate, “but I did learn quite a bit more about him and my understanding of his music, which is profound. Everything he has done was recording in like three years; he’s got more recorded catalog than a lot of lifetime artists. It’s  just amazing. He’s just an anomaly, in a good way, a force of nature.”
Playing events like White Mountain Boogie ‘N Blues Fest provides a welcome return, Lang said.  
“Blues guitar players are my biggest influence ... so I love festivals like that, where people are there specifically to see that genre of music,” he said. 

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