Bluesman Jonathon Long continues to carve out his own identity
Blues guitarist Jonathon Long will bring style and story to the Shank Hall stage on Tuesday, Dec. 11. The show will mark his first time playing in Milwaukee – or at least he's pretty sure that's the case.
"I've been all over the place – don't think I've been there yet," Long said from the road.
It's forgivable if Long's not always sure where he's been considering his volume of activity since winning Guitars Center's 2011 King of Blues. He's been on the road and in the studio, cumulating into the still fresh release of "Jonathon Long."
The release, the first on the blues hottest shining new star Samantha Fish's Wild Heart Records, quickly caught ears. In September, "Jonathon Long" charted No. 8 on Billboard's Blues Rock album chart wedged right in between Dave Alvin and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
"It's just another piece to make me feel I can do this at a high level and make it," Long said. "It was a nice birthday gift, as that's the day they let me know it was on the charts."
The album has a touch of crossover rock, but the blues isn't exactly toned down. From the first chords of "Bury Me" through the closer, "Pray For Me," Long's guitar work is a must listen. He's able to use his chops to bridge cuts like "Natural Girl," which is classic Southern Rock, to the more traditional rock of "The Road," to "Living the Blues," which is straight up. His songwriting has caught up his six-string powerless.
Along the way, Long had another memorable moment that help stoke his blues' flames.
"I was on tour with BB King; it was my first night, and he called me up on stage," Long recalled. "King said, 'Boy, you sure can play that guitar. I saw you warming up and stole some of your licks.' I shot back, 'Mr. King, that's alright because I stole all yours.'"
He also earned an endorsement from Gibson.
"I wanted a customized ES-335, but they wanted me to order 25 to make it work," Long said. "No hard feelings – still use it for some songs."
Long is now cooking up most of his magic on a customer Harper Guitar made in Indiana. His path to along the way also included ditching his pseudo nickname, "Boogie." Not exactly a John Cougar situation, but looking him up on YouTube, it's easier to find him as Jonathon Boogie Long since there's another John Long that keeps popping up. He's also a blues performer – though not at all in similar styles – and Jonathon notes the other Long is cramping his wallet.
"It actually cost me a gig; the club owner booked the other John and didn't want to confuse regulars," Long noted.
While he will pop up on stage for Fish's encore, it'd be a wise decision to get there to see Long – the correct Jonathon Long – while he's still opening shows. One expects he won't be merely opening for long.
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