I am not a “music person.” I rarely know the names of songs or bands, but I love to see live music of all kinds. Lucky for me I live in the Live Music Capital of the World — Austin, Texas — where live music is always on tap. A few months ago I saw Jonny Lang at the Austin City Limits Live Moody Theater (ACL).
I vaguely knew Lang’s music, but ACL consistently delivers an abundance of talent so I went in expecting a great concert. I walked out with three unexpected life lessons.
Guthrie Brown opened for Jonny. Just two guys, two guitars and a stuffed white tiger named Terrell on stage. I think it’s safe to say the majority of the audience had never heard of these guys and our expectations were pretty low. Then lead singer Guthrie Brown sang his first note and we all took notice. Pure. Strong. Smooth. The kind of voice that vibrates in your cells and lyrics that tug at your soul. He left the stage and I wanted MORE.
Lesson: Show up early. When you’re in front of the crowd you’ll see things you would have otherwise missed.
Jonny took the stage and after the first song I thought, “This guy really brings it.” Then the next song and the next and at some point I started to wonder if he was going to make it to the end of the concert. Seriously. He poured so much energy and emotion into every single song I expected him to simply not be able to continue. But he did. And each song was just as intense as the previous one, right up to the very end.
Lesson: Stop hedging. Show up. Be all in. Trust that your passion will expand your capacity.
Jonny brought a wall of sound to the ACL stage. After the first three songs a few people sitting around me left, saying this was not the Jonny Lang they were expecting. It was too loud, too rock. It’s probably a good thing those folks left because the “too loud, too rock” continued, but they also missed out on a haunting rendition of Muddy Waters’ “Forty Days and Forty Nights” and a version of “Lie to Me” that I can still feel reverberating in my bones.
Lesson: You evolve. Your work evolves. Your fans evolve. For every fan that drops out, there’s a new fan to replace them (hand raised).
I didn’t go to that concert looking to learn something and I didn’t leave there thinking about life lessons. But, like all good art, the experience had an impact on me, and these ideas have been simmering somewhere in my subconscious waiting to spill out onto this screen. It is yet another reminder that inspiration isn’t a gift you passively receive. Inspiration comes from being immersed in life. It’s found in the doing.
Deep bow to Jonny Lang and Guthrie Brown for bringing such passion to their art and sharing it with us.