Danny Zelisko presents an evening with Buddy Guy & Jonny Lang at 8 p.m. on Friday, August 17 at the historic Celebrity Theatre. Reserved tickets go on sale Wednesday, April 25th at www.celebritytheatre.com.
At age 81, Buddy Guy is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, a major influence on rock titans like Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, a pioneer of Chicago’s fabled West Side sound, and a living link to the city’s halcyon days of electric blues. Guy has received 7 Grammy Awards, a 2015 Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, 37 Blues Music Awards (the most any artist has received), Billboard Magazine’s Century Award for distinguished artistic achievement, a Kennedy Center Honor, and the Presidential National Medal of Arts. Rolling Stone Magazine ranked him #23 in its “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.”
He was awarded the 2012 Kennedy Center Honor for his lifetime contribution to American culture; earlier in the year, at a performance at the White House, he even persuaded President Obama to join him on a chorus of “Sweet Home Chicago.” Also in 2012, he published his long-awaited memoir, When I Left Home.
It is hard to believe that at 37 years old Jonny Lang has already had a successful career for two decades. Easier to believe when you learn he released his first platinum record at 15 — an age when many young people are just beginning to play music. Lie to Me revealed a talent that transcended the crop of blues prodigies floating around in the late Nineties. No flashy re-hasher of classic blues licks, even at that early age Lang was a full-blown artist with a style of his own. Also, setting Lang apart from the wunderkind crowd was a 15-year-old voice that sounded like a weathered soul shouter. Actual life experience was yet to come, and has been subsequently chronicled in a series of five uniformly excellent recordings. “I got married, had kids, and that arc has been recorded on albums along the way,” says Lang. “There is a lot of personal history in there, and also some things that relate to world events.”
Lang’s most recent studio album Signs is not merely a return to the artist’s guitar-based beginnings, but an embodiment of an even more elemental sound. Beyond focusing attention on his soloing prowess, it is about recapturing the spirit of the early blues, where the guitar was front and center, fairly leaping out of the speakers. “A lot of my earlier influences have been coming to the surface, like Robert Johnson, and Howlin’ Wolf,” he reports. “I have been appreciating how raw and unrefined that stuff is. I had an itch to emulate some of that and I think it shows in the songs. Still, I let the writing be what it was and that was sometimes not necessarily the blues.”
Since the release of his debut album, the Grammy Award winner has built a reputation as one of the best live performers and guitarists of his generation. The path Lang has been on has brought him the opportunity to support or perform with some of the most respected legends in music. He has shared the stage with everyone from The Rolling Stones, B.B. King, Aerosmith and Buddy Guy, who he continues to tour with today.
Doors open at 6 p.m. Reserved seat tickets ($40, $65, $95) go on sale at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 25th at Celebrity Theatre, 440 N. 32nd St., in Phoenix, or online at www.celebritytheatre.com. To charge by phone, call 602-267-1600 ext. 1. All tickets are subject to facility and ticketing surcharges. All ages welcome.