Georgia native and rising country musician Jon Langston opens for Luke Bryan this Friday at CMAC
Not all that long ago, Jon Langston could be found in the crowd at a Luke Bryan concert, never suspecting that someday he’d be taking the stage himself on a tour with the country star. He’d always been into music and was a big fan of selected country and rock acts — Bryan, Tim McGraw, The Eagles — and he’d played a little guitar back in eighth grade. But football, that was his thing.
Or was, until a series of concussions suffered while playing college football with Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina — one of which left him blind for 15 minutes — ended that path.
So the Georgia native decided to make a go of music after all — starting with the short passing game rather than the long bomb. “I started just writing songs and putting them on YouTube, and started getting a following,” he said. And paying his dues, playing county fairs and “little dive bars” through the Southeast — eventually getting an opening slot for Chase Rice in 2013, the year he released an independent EP, “Runnin’ on Sunshine.” It’s also the year he wrote his first song, “Forever Girl.”
Langston remembers a festival show that confirmed for him he’d made the right play. “Eight hundred college kids were singing a song that I wrote — and I knew that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”
He kept at it — working, writing, playing, traveling — and the opportunities opened up. More recording projects (three EPs so far, plus recent singles that have gotten some big buzz and plenty of online hits), a mentor-protege relationship with country star Rhett Akins, and an opening slot for Luke Bryan in 2017. Now he’s back with Bryan, the first artist signed under Bryan’s new label 32 Bridge Entertainment — and with him on the “Sunset Repeat” tour that makes its way to Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center (CMAC) on Friday, July 12. (Also on the bill: Cole Swindell.)
“Yeah, it’s awesome,” Langston said. “You get to learn a lot from him ... he’s the best in the business.”
He’s also got high praise for Akins: “He’s one of the first people I met when I moved to Nashville — he took me under his wing, he definitely showed me how to write a song, and how the industry works.” Akins even opened his home to the rising star for awhile.
On 32 Bridge, Langston has released his first major-label singles, “When It Comes to Loving You” (which made the top 5 on iTunes’ all-genre chart), “Dance Tonight” and “Now You Know.” According to soundslike nashville,com, as of June 22 Langston hasd racked up over 392 million streams in his career.
With a country-rocking sound reminiscent of his mentors and favorite acts, Langston has zeroed his writing on a couple major themes:
“Love songs and good times,” Langston said. “That’s what life’s all about. You ain’t got love, you ain’t got good times.”
There might be a song in that, he laughed.
The gates open at 5:30 p.m. July 12 for the 7 p.m. show at CMAC, 3355 Marvin Sands Drive, Hopewell (on the Finger Lakes Community College campus). Ticket prices vary; go to cmacevents.com or Ticketmaster. The general box office, in the parking lot, opens at noon on show days.
No rest for the CMAC staff: The very next evening, Southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd come to town for a stop on the band’s farewell tour, joined by Gov’t Mule and bluesman Buddy Guy. Gates for the Skynyrd show open at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, with the music starting at 6:30 p.m. Then on Tuesday, July 16, the Tedeschi Trucks Band makes its return to CMAC, joined by Blackberry Smoke and Shovels & Rope, for a 7 p.m. show.
Sunset Serenades, Ferris Hills at West Lake’s annual summer concert series, will kick off on Wednesday, July 17, with a performance by The Paulsen & Baker Band, with special guest Tim Chaapel. John Paulsen and Keith Baker have been performing together for more than 40 years with an act encompassing country, folk, rock and bluegrass, plus a little comedy.
The six-week concert series on Wednesday evenings is free and open to the public, with free parking available. Each show starts at 7 p.m. and is held (weather permitting) in the courtyard shared by the independent living community of Ferris Hills and its adjacent, enriched living community of Clark Meadows.
The rest of the schedule: July 24, It’s My Party; July 31, Musique; Aug. 7, The Music Makers; Aug. 14, Cadillac Dawn; Aug. 21, Daniel Henry.
Ferris Hills at West Lake is best accessed from the 3300 block of West Lake Road (County Road 16), via Peg Rayburn Drive. For more information on the concert series, call 585-393-0410.
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Reminder #1: Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.
Reminder #2: It’s opening night for the Geneva Theatre Guild production of “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” presented July 11-14 at the Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St., Geneva. “Spamalot,” based on the film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” retells the legend of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table with a handful of key differences: Vegas show girls, projectile cows, killer rabbits and rude French soldiers, and such. New this year is a $35 dinner and show package with Bella’s on Seneca Street in Geneva.
“Monty Python’s Spamalot” is scheduled for 8 p.m. July 11-12; 8:30 p.m. July 13, after the Geneva Fireman’s Parade; and 2 p.m. July 14. Tickets are available at genevatheatreguild.org or four presale locations: Pedulla’s Wine and Liquor Store, 375 Hamilton St., and Earthly Possessions, 70 Seneca St., in Geneva; Mobile Music, 163 S. Main St., Canandaigua; and The Copy Shop, 105 Fall St., Seneca Falls.