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Like it or not, Jonny Lang can't play the same old thing.

Byline: Carolyn Lamberson The Register-Guard

For the past few years, Jonny Lang's life has been about change.

The 24-year-old singer-guitarist is on tour with a new band and a new sound.

The former teen guitar prodigy - who had platinum albums and a Grammy nomination before he was 19 - has moved away from the blues sound that rocketed him to fame. His most recent album, 2003's `Long Time Coming,' is more pop-rock than blues. More Bryan Adams than Stevie Ray Vaughan.

He knows that his new sound is not popular with all his fans, he said recently from a tour stop in San Diego.

`I was prepared for that. If I would have done another album that was similar to the last two, I feel like I would have been moving backwards,' Lang said.

`I'm growing musically and I want to continue to do that, and any time you do that, you're going to lose people and make people mad.'

He laughed.

`People get used to one niche and they want `Rack 'em Up' on every album or something.'

He also moved more into the songwriting arena, co-writing most of the songs on `Long Time Coming' with producer Marti Fredericksen. But these are not the only areas that Lang is shaking up.

He's touring with a whole new band. And he has launched a 36-city acoustic tour that stops by the McDonald Theatre on Saturday.

Jonny Lang acoustic? After playing music professionally for more than 10 years, Lang said, it was time to do something different.

`I always have fun when I play, no matter what it is, but this was an idea a few of us had to do something different and see if it would work,' he said. `Just for the sake of my sanity and just trying to not burn out and keeping it fresh.'

He admits this new tour had him a bit jittery, he said.

`I know people are used to coming out and seeing a blaring rock show, and it's definitely different than that,' Lang said.

`I was nervous about how people were going to like it at first, but they seem to be really enjoying it,' he said. `I'm really happy with it. It's fun.'

Lang, who hails from Fargo, N.D., first started playing guitar professionally when he was 13. His major label debut album, 1997's `Lie to Me,' was released when he was just 15.

`Lie to Me' topped the Billboard blues chart and went on to sell more than a million copies. Its follow-up, 1998's `Wander this World,' was nominated for a Grammy for best contemporary blues album.

Lang toured the world. He played for President Bill Clinton and opened for B.B. King, the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith, to name a few.

Still, he suspects that even though he's in his mid-20s, people still think of him as that teenage blues player.

`I think that comes from mostly the people who want to deny they're getting older. `You're still 17, right, because I'm still 29,' ' he said with a laugh.

`To have parents that saw that in me at a young age and allowed me to do it on a professional level is incredible, so I'm just really thankful for that,' he said.

Up next, Lang said, will be a gospel album.

`I just don't know how to classify that. I mean stylistically anyway. I really don't have any clue how it will turn out or sound. I just know it will be more soulful, maybe Sly and the Family Stone style of music, but more of a gospel record.

`I don't know if I should even call it a gospel record, but that's what I'm aiming for.'

CONCERT PREVIEW

Jonny Lang

With: Keri Noble

When: 8 p.m. Saturday

Where: McDonald Theatre, 1010 Willamette St.

Tickets: $30 in advance through TicketsWest outlets; $32 day of show

CAPTION(S):

Jonny Lang was a little nervous about going acoustic for his latest tour. But he says fans "seem to be really enjoying it.'
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Title Annotation:Entertainment
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 11, 2005
Words:672
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