Jeez, has it already been 12 years since Fargo, North Dakota's very own blues-guitar prodigy, Jon Gordon Langseth Jr. - that's Jonny Lang to you - released his 1997 major label debut at the ripe old age of fifteen? Well, seeing that I just watched the big crystal ball drop on Times Square a few days ago to usher in the 2009 new year, I guess it has.
The 1990's featured a blues-guitar revival of sorts, led by Lang and fellow blues-rocker, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, who released his own debut album, Ledbetter Heights, in 1995, while also still just a teenager. Each of their debut albums reached #1 on the Blues Album charts and spawned hit singles that you could actually hear on the radio at the time. Have I mentioned lately how much radio sucks these days? - unless you're a Nickelback or rap fan, that is.
Lang's debut album, Lie to Me, and his even better follow up, Wander This World, are two very impressive blues-rock efforts, especially when you consider that all of the guitar and lead vocals were handled by a teenaged white boy, who hadn't even touched his first guitar until he was twelve years old. It's not like he was some Joe Bonamassa-like freak of nature, who had already played professionally before he even sprouted his first pube. Lang actually started playing around the same time I did - he just happened to put out a platinum album three years later. I'm still workin' on it.
My interest in Jonny Lang began to fade after I had gotten my fill of Wander This World. I passed on his last two R&B-inspired, pop-rock albums Long Time Coming and Turn Around, not because they were particularly bad albums, but because if I wanted to hear me some Stevie Wonder, I would have gone directly to the source. Hell, Long Time Coming even featured a faithful cover of "Livin' For The City" for Christ's sake. I must admit though, it sounded pretty damn righteous.
Although I never had the opportunity to see Lang play live, his fans will assure you that it was his explosive live performances that really launched his career. His excellent performance of "Give Me Up Again" from the first Eric Clapton Crossroads Guitar Festival DVD was more than enough to get me excited about this first ever Jonny Lang concert DVD.
Live At Montreux features Lang's performance at the Montreux Jazz Festival on July 7th, 1999, while he was out supporting Wander This World, and was still barely 18 years old. The performance is only 54 minutes long, because Lang was the opening act for the legendary B.B. King that night. King would also invite his young blues disciple on stage to jam with him during his set, and it's a damn shame that this footage did not make the DVD as a bonus feature.