Following the King
The Blues Revolution hits the road with blues legend BB King
By Holly A. PhillipsPosted Apr 3, 2013
A unique name – Jonathon “Boogie” Long and The Blues Revolution – familiar to the local blues scene, is on the road with a name blues will never forget: BB King. The three-piece band currently consists of Long on guitar and vocals, Jason Corley on drums, and Chris Roberts on bass.
The Blues Revolution plays regular shows in town, every Tuesday night at Big Heads and every Thursday night at The Blues Room, but after their April 2 show the group packed up its truck and headed nearly 1,400 miles north to Sault Sainte Marie, Mich. where they will open for King’s sold-out crowd.
“This is the biggest tour to date that I’ve been on,” Long said. “It’s going to be people coming expecting the blues and that’s good.”
The Blues Revolution is currently under Red Light Management, which works with Alicia Keys, Ben Harper, Alabama Shakes, and Miley Cyrus, among others. The group found out it had confirmed 15 dates with King in late February.
“They are actually a good management company,” Long said. “It’s a testimonial to the fact that if you don’t take no for an answer and you keep working hard that you can actually get somewhere with it.”
Long is no stranger to music on the road. He began touring full-time with Henry Turner Jr. at just 14 years old. He’s also toured with Chris Duarte, Kenne Wayne, Tyree Neal, and Big Luther Kent over the years, plus Long’s name recognition grew after winning the 2011 Guitar Center’s King of the Blues guitar competition, which named him the No. 1 Unsigned Blues Guitarist in America.
He’s had a guitar in his hands for a while.
“My grandfather played in the church,” Long said. “I grew up around people holding guitars. When I was 8, my dad bought me an acoustic guitar from a pawn shop and put me in lessons.”
Just a few years later, Long played with Dixie Rose, and then moved on to Swamp Mama’s at just 13 years old.
“It became more than school for me,” he said. “The next thing you know I’m 14, sitting in front of my guidance counselor saying I’m about to drop out. I am just naturally gifted and really blessed.”
Corley, a Baton Rouge-native, started playing drums at 4 years old after listening to his dad’s records, and started his first band at 12. Although Corley never took formal lessons, he was in jazz and marching band in high school.
Roberts, the band’s most recent member, is just 17, and was introduced to music at an early age by listening to artists like Hank Williams Sr. He decided he wanted to play drums or guitar at 6 years old. After playing guitar in a band, he was introduced to bass and fell in love.
“I never went back,” Roberts said. “It’s a really cool instrument, but it’s a feeling for me. I took guitar lessons, but never for bass, and it’s a passion of mine.”
Although each member of the group enjoys different music, from jam bands to ‘90s rock, they get on stage for one reason: to play the blues.
“All three of us really have a deep love for music,” Roberts said. “Even though our backgrounds are different musically, when we get on stage our energy is going to one thing.”
After completing several 50-minute shows as the opening act for King, The Blues Revolution has dates booked in New Orleans, including opening for Los Lobos at the Jazz and Heritage Festival.
“I’ve worked my whole life for the opportunities that are being laid in front of me,” Long said. “I’ve played with a lot of different musicians, in other bands and in this band, and I’ve been able to get further along in my career with each change. It’s getting to that serious stage, and we have to step up and really knock it out of the park.”
The group is pretty calm at the mention of touring with a legend, arguably the King of blues.
“We are still soaking in everything,” Long said. “When I get in that truck to head to Michigan, that’s when it’s going to set in. This man is the most famous blues artist to ever walk the face of this earth, and it’s cool to say that in my life we’re going out there with the man.”
Just a month ago, Roberts and Corley went to see King perform at the Baton Rouge River Center.
“It’s crazy,” Roberts said. “He is the best and it doesn’t get more authentic than him. He is the blues. As a musician it feels great, but you have to be hard on yourself. I have to really tighten up my chops and be as great as I can at every show.”
The tour will take The Blues Revolution along the East Coast, performing to sold-out crowds in theaters and auditoriums that seat 1,200-5,000 people.
“It is a huge deal,” Long said. “But I also know how much work we still have to do. This is the first step toward the next step. It’s just a building block, laying another Lego down so we can build our fortress.”