Over the last few years I’ve had the pleasure of seeing Jonathon “Boogie” Long shred with enthusiastic fervor playing to the crowds from the Acura Stage and the Blues Tent at Jazz Fest, as well as the Bogalusa Blues Fest and the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Fest. But nothing could beat spending some time with this personable and genuine young man on the porch of a ramshackle shack in the swamp near his Baton Rouge home.
At 27 years young, Long has earned many well-deserved accolades, including rising above thousands of competitors to be crowned Guitar Center’s “King of the Blues” in 2011, which gained him nationwide notoriety. Long was inspired by the late Michael Burks, who was dubbed “Iron Man” for his energetic and passionate performances on stage. One can see Burks’ influence in the way Long plays: with intensity and fire, as if the riffs come directly from his soul. His vocal technique is his own unique soul-stomping sound, smooth and edgy at the same time.
With music in his blood from the beginning, Boogie began playing gospel guitar at the age of six while growing up in Baton Rouge. “My grandfather played in the church,” I grew up around people holding guitars. When I was eight, my dad bought me an acoustic guitar from a pawn shop and put me in lessons.” His natural abilities surfaced, and by age twelve he was on stage. At fourteen, he left school and started touring fulltime playing bass on the Louisiana Legends Tour with Henry Turner Jr. He also shared the stage with standout musicians such as Chris Duarte, Kenny Wayne and Tyree Neal on the Chitlin’ Circuit. Quint Davis, who has a significantly keen ear for music, even picked him out of the crowd of worthy musicians and offered to manage Long when he was 23 years old, pointed him in the direction of “meeting the right people,” and continues to be involved in his career. Presently, veteran manager Chris Tetzeli, is at Long’s helm along with a roster that includes Big Head Todd and the Monsters, North Mississippi Allstars, among others.
Over a decade later, Long’s explosive guitar style, stage charisma, and powerful songwriting skills led him to touring and opening for B.B. King. He related, “Touring and opening for the King of the Blues, a soulful man full of joy and wisdom, was a life changing experience. But I also know how much work we still have to do. This was the first step toward the next step. It’s just a building block, laying another Lego down so we can build our fortress. We are ready to step up and really knock it out of the park.”
As he rocked in his chair on the rickety front porch, Long took a sip of moonshine and expressed his anticipation to play with his trio band, the Blues Revolution, first at T-Bois Blues Fest and once again at Jazz Fest. He has also performed at OffBeat’s Best of the Beat Awards, French Quarter Festival and many other festivals in the United States, Canada and Germany. A burgeoning draw on the southern U.S. blues circuit, Long has played with Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule, ZZ Top, Robert Cray, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Ana Popovic, Dr. John, among many others. Quint Davis, who has a significantly keen ear for music, picked him out of the crowd of worthy musicians and offered to manage him when Long was 23 years old. Long noted that Davis “pointed me in the direction of meeting the right people, and continues to be involved” in his career. Presently, veteran manager, Chris Tetzeli, is at Long’s helm along with a roster that includes Big Head Todd and the Monsters and North Mississippi Allstars among many others.
He leaned back and launched into some tasty licks using the moonshine jar as a slide. Long has been called the “living embodiment of the modern state of the blues” as well as one of the most soulful blues guitarists, with the voice to match, since Muddy Waters. “I’m trying to keep the legacy of the blues going. The blues is my heart, soul and passion and I love writing with the challenge of tackling various genres. I write blues, country, folk, R&B and Southern soul.” Long shares his skills with others on YouTube and has instructional DVDs available. He recently completed a new recording made up of twelve songs spanning the genres of blues, soul, rock and funk. He stated, “The Blues Revolution and I are very excited about the release of my second full-length album, “Trying to Get There,” which will be coming out soon; it has many styles of music but still captures my Blues roots and feel.”
His evolution from gospel to blues to the whole spectrum of Southern-inspired music is a delight to experience. Catch this promising and ambitious young powerhouse on stage and up close and personal in the crowd on Saturday, March 19 at T-Bois Blues Fest and circle him on your Jazz Fest “cubes” on Friday, April 29 in the Blues Tent. You will be delighted and held spellbound with his energetic performance.
About the T-Bois Blues Festival
T-Bois (Cajun French for “lil’ woods”) is a two-day party on Friday, March 18 and Saturday, March 19 in Larose, Louisiana. The Festival is a camping festival with food and drinks, airboat rides, live music and bonfires. Affectionately known as “Burning Man down da Bayou,” it began as a family reunion on an alligator and crawfish farm that was extended to friends of the family. After several years, more “friends” attended and it became a rather large “throwdown” that evolved into a full-fledged festival. The New Orleans Burning Man Community erects several creative wooden objets d’art that are ceremoniously burned each evening, along with their own Burning Bayou Village complete with laser lights, electronica that pulsates until sunrise, interactive exhibits, Chinese lanterns, fireworks, and communal living, “Burner” style.
The lineup includes Nigel Hall, Alvin Youngblood Hart’s Muscle Theory, Honey Island Swamp Band, Billy Iuso and the Restless Natives, Dave Jordan & the NIA, Colin Lake, Heath Ledet Band, Jonathon “Boogie” Long, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Nick Moss Band, Nonc Nu and the Wild Matous, Anders Osborne, Jason Ricci, Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds, Carolyn Wonderland, and Mike Zito and the Wheel among many others.