By Paul Piazza
An enthusiastic crowd arrived at the Crest Theatre on Tuesday evening to see 34-year-old blues star Jonny Lang rock the Telecaster like no one else. Lang has been onstage since he was a young teen in Fargo, North Dakota. Back then he was known as “Kid” Jonny Lang.
Speaking of youngsters, a group from Memphis via Providence called the Runaway Saints opened the show and impressed with spirited vocals and catchy, twangy rock. The impressionable lads got a strong response from the early crowd and received an extended Sacramento welcome with a royal tour of of Skip’s Music the following day by Skip himself.
Next up was the headliner. Besides being a stellar guitarist, Lang has an impressive vocal range that allows him to go from raspy blues on one song to soulful falsetto on another. It could be said that he has a voice of great character. When he wasn’t passionately singing, he was stepping away from the microphone and wailing on guitar like nobody’s business. Lang splits time between a vintage ‘58 Gibson Les Paul and a custom Fender Telecaster Thinline, which was designed for him with his guitar heroes Albert Collins and Tab Benoit in mind. He also spent a little acoustic time on a Martin J-40. That’s a pretty good set of traveling guitars.
Set highlights included a guitar-heavy version of Stevie Wonder’s “Livin’ For The City” and Lang’s biggest hit “Lie To Me,” which he started acoustic, then switched to electric for some Tele-smacking in a fiery finale. When the show ended, the crowd wandered happily onto K. Street, an extra spring noticeable in many a step.