HAVE KEYBOARD, WILL TRAVEL Lingo.
The Johnny Lingo Band are back with Somewhere To Go
, the follow-up to their ’09 debut Shake It Off
(both available at iTunes). Elton John, Ben Folds, and Billy Joel are inescapable points of reference, and the five songs (including a cover of the Billy Joel instrumental “Rootbeer Rag”) fit the piano-pop profile. Lingo has enjoyed a busy 2010, from steady solo gigs for the Aspire and Tazza dinner crowds to unleashing his inner piano-ham upon lively patrons at local pubs like McFadden’s, where Lingo and drummer Chase Leonard will return next week (as part of McFadden’s Live Music Tuesday series).
Lingo has been a fixture within the Rhody music community, from his longtime role as keyboardist with Fungus Amungus (which snagged back-to-back Best Jam Band honors in our Music Poll a few years back and will play the Met Cafe on September 25) to scooping up accolades with his original crew the Lingo, which won WBRU’s Rock Hunt in 2004. And Johnny took Best Male Vocalist honors in our ’09 BMP.
There’s no denying Lingo’s knack for pounding out surefire hooks and melodies (see "1 in 10" and "Step Outside" from Shake It Off), and he sounds even more comfortable since trimming the band down to him and Leonard.
"Our bass player moved to New York City after we recorded the first album, so Chase and I pursued the idea of just a piano and drum duo," Lingo recalled. “I’ve always written strong bass lines with my left hand and figured, why not give it a try?
"Plus, not having a bass player actually makes things easier for me. I can play whatever I want."
The streamlined approach has paid dividends for Lingo and Leonard creatively.
"Chase and I have a great connection of being able to improvise songs at practice and shows," Lingo said. "The title track was written this way. I still have the practice recorded where we wrote that song, and it’s kind of magical to listen to it now.
"I always think, 'Holy shit, we wrote that song completely stream of conscious.'"
Somewhere To Go was Lingo’s first time recording at Machines With Magnets, which also provided a nice spark. “They have a kickass Yamaha grand piano that I fell in love with it while touring the studio,” Lingo recalled. “And, when I learned that Clap Your Hands Say Yeah [who Lingo knew from his Connecticut College days] recorded their [2006 self-titled] debut album at Machines With Magnets, it was a no-brainer.”
"Show Me a Sign" and the title track (remember the Gershwin-influenced piano on those United Airlines TV ads a few years ago?) are quality pop nuggets, and the seven-minute “Family Man” (not the Hall & Oates song, though Lingo could probably knock out a great cover) offers plenty of spirited moments to let loose on the ivory.
"I find chords that seem to resonate, then start singing a melody. A few lyrics come out and I’ll race to grab a pen or a recorder. When I’m feeling the inspiration I need to keep writing until the song is complete.
"I know if I tried to go back later that magic spark will be gone."
THE JOHNNY LINGO BAND | Tuesday, September 28 @ 9 pm | McFadden’s, 52 Pine Street, Providence | 401.861.1782 | Free | johnnylingoband.com