Music that resonates in Beaver Creek
BEAVER CREEK – Close enough to see ’em sweat. The front row is widely considered the best seats in the house at most venues. But that’s not what Eagle-Vail resident Amy Church wanted when she saw Jonny Lang perform at the Vilar Center a few years back. “I purposely bought tickets for up in the balcony,” she said. “The way he fills the place, you want a view of him like that. He goes to your heart. Whatever song it is, you can feel it vibrating in your chest. He’s amazing.”Church is a year older than the L.A.-based musician and has been listening to him since she was 16, back when he was singing and playing guitar with his first band, Kid Jonny Lang & The Big Bang.”He was very bluesy and my family was into the blues,” she said. The rock-gospel-blues musician returns to the Vilar Center for a show tonight, part of his “Live … By Request” Tour, which allows fans to log on to Lang’s website, http://www.jonnylang.com, and request songs for him to perform at the show. Along with the requests, he’ll play tunes from his most recent studio album “Turn Around” and likely some older stuff as well, he said during a recent phone interview from Chicago, where he was preparing for a show at the House of Blues. Despite Lang’s accomplishments – he toured with the Rolling Stones, Buddy Guy, Aerosmith, B.B. King and more, has six albums under his belt and a Grammy award -the boyish-looking 29-year-old was soft-spoken and humble on the phone. That attitude comes across when he’s on stage, too, which is partly why Church calls Lang one of her favorite musicians.”You can tell he loves what he does,” Church said. “He just wants to play music. He’s not big into the celebrity side of it.”
Lang started playing the guitar when he was 13 in his hometown of Fargo, N.D.”I’ve always loved music,” he said. “Ever since I could remember, I wanted to be a singer. My parents were always listening to MoTown records. I grew up in a very musical house.”Lang released his first album “Smokin” when he was 15. His acclaimed album “Lie to Me” soon followed, and a year later, “Wander this World.” The soulful “Long Time Coming,” released in 2003, got Lang his first Grammy nomination. And in 2006, Lang released “Turn Around,” which won a Grammy award in the rock gospel category, though that was a bit of a surprise to him. “As far as the gospel genre goes, I don’t consider ‘Turn Around’ to be gospel, but it did get recognized in that category, so what do I know? I didn’t write it with that intention, though.”It was during that time that Lang found a new purpose in life. “I guess the message behind that album is just sharing my relationship with God,” he said. “I had never written an album where I was focusing on trying to be positive. I didn’t want it to come off preachy, I just wanted it to be positive in hopes of relating to people and making whoever listens to it feel good.”High Life Editor Caramie Schnell can be reached at 970-748-2984 or email@example.com.