Johnny Long found his trade in the traditional, pre-war acoustic blues sound. By adhering strictly to the rhythms and styles of the original country blues sounds, Johnny manages to establish an almost unmistakable link between such traditional 1920’s and 30’s Delta pieces and modern blues talent. Johnny Long brings original songs to the stage, but wrapped in a throwback to the foundation of blues. His album “Stand Your Ground” was nominated for acoustic album of the year at the 2017 Blues Music Awards. Long will play the Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center on Saturday, November 10 at 8pm. Local blues musician Steve Arvey will open the show. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Go to wslr.org for more info.
John Long was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1950 and was first exposed to the music he’d make his life’s work not long after. His mother played several stringed instruments and supplemented the household income by teaching local guitarists. By the late 1950s John was absorbing the sounds of Jimmy Reed, Buster Brown, Muddy Waters, Lightnin ’ Hopkins, Junior Parker, and all the rest of the R&B and jump blues of the day, and working on recreating those sounds with his own guitar. By the early 1960s he was playing professionally in local bands, and digging deeper into the blues, through Muddy, Wolf, and Elmore, to Tampa Red, Peetie Wheatstraw , Leroy Carr & Scrapper Blackwell, Lonnie Johnson and others. As Long immersed himself in the pre-war, acoustic blues era, he began to find a home stylistically, and started writing his own original music, inspired in large part by his brother Claude, whom he still credits as his biggest influence.
The early 1970s found him in Chicago, and it was there that he met another important inspiration: veteran bluesman Homesick James Williamson. Williamson had been playing blues guitar since the pre-war era and was kin to, and bandmate of, blues great Elmore James. Homesick was a surrogate father figure to Long, treating him like a son, showing him the ropes in Chicago, and tutoring him in the subtleties of the blues. For the last 30+ years, Long has been seriously honing his craft, perfecting his art, and finding his voice. His complete recorded works to date consist mainly of a few deeply obscure backing appearances on other people’s sessions, a small handful of home-made recordings done mainly for demo purposes, and a cut on a sampler released by the host of an NPR radio program. “Lost and Found” on Delta Groove is John Long’s first full-length release.
Photo courtesy of Fogartyville Community Media and Arts Center.