Jonathon “Boogie” Long may be best known for playing old-school blues, but fans can expect a modern take on the traditional from the 27-year-old’s new album and upcoming performances.
Long will lead his trio Friday at Varsity Theatre, opening for slide-guitar virtuoso Sonny Landreth. Doors open at 8 p.m. Music begins at 9 p.m. Tickets are $17 in advance and $20 at the door.
A Baton Rouge-native, Long’s love of the blues came at an early age. At 6 years old, Long was learning to play blues chords on guitar. By 14, he was on tour full time as the bassist in local legend Henry Turner’s band.
Nowadays, Long is swinging in and out of the genre, bringing in modern touches along the way.
“I’ll always love the blues, but I also love venturing out,” Long said. “I want to create my own sound.”
Long’s genre-blending tunes have a lot to do with his varied inspirations.
“It’s a musical gumbo with a blues base,” he said.
His new album, “Trying To Get There,” will be released April 29 and follows-up his debut album “Jonathon Boogie Long and the Blues Revolution.”
On the new album, you’ll hear elements of country, rock, funk and R&B. Long said he let his songwriting take the wheel for a change.
“Originally, I wanted it to be an all-guns-blazing, guitar-slinging record, but I focused on songwriting in the end,” he said. “I wanted to have a lot of songs on it that were close to my heart — songs that I was ready to put out to the people.”
When it comes to songwriting, Long prides himself on creating tunes with an uplifting ideology.
“I try to write things that are positive,” Long said. “The whole idea is that in life you gotta go out and get it — go out right now and get it while you’re alive.”
“Trying To Get There,” which includes tracks “Crescent City Girl,” “Southern State of Mind” and “Dealing with the Blues,” was recorded with band members Chris Roberts on bass and Jay Carnegie on drums. Terrence Houston (of George Porter Jr.’s band) is now performing on drums with Long.
After Friday’s show, Long and crew will play the T-Bois festival in Larose on Saturday. Then, they return to the Blues Tent at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival on April 29.
Long is especially excited to open for North Carolina guitarist Eric Gales at Lava Cantina in Baton Rouge on June 2.
“He is one of my heroes,” Long said. “(Gales) takes a right-handed guitar and swings it upside down to play it left-handed. He’s hands-down one of the best blues guitarists in the country.”
Although he won’t be playing this year at the upcoming Baton Rouge Blues Festival, Long’s video for the title track of the upcoming album will debut on a big screen outside at the fest.
“It’s about being a young man, and just hoping you live long enough to get old,” he said of the story.
The video, filmed at Teddy’s Juke Joint in Zachary, features Long, his band and a few dozen fans dancing through their youth and into old age.
“We just wanted to give people something funny, something enjoyable instead of serious,” Long said. “I like to see people dancing and enjoying themselves. That’s why I love making music.”