It may not rank up there with Bob Dylan going electric at the Newport Jazz Festival, but watching Lanky grab hold of a Telecaster with the backing of a full band does make a live set different from his solo shows.
Lanky is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey that has been criss-crossing most of the country during the past few years. He has released two records - the first being a full-length called Inner Onwriter, and his most recent being Last Chance To Make A First Impression, which came out a few months ago. The two records show just how different Lanky's music sounds with and without a band.
Inner Onwriter was recorded in the studio with full instrumentation on every track. Last Chance To Make A First Impression was a live recording of how most of the country was used to seeing Lanky - live on stage with an acoustic guitar. As an artist trying to define himself, it probably didn't help.
"I put out the first record and it's like a full production," said Lanky. "And then I go and tour with just a guitar. So everyone sees me with just a guitar. Then I put out this EP that's stripped down... it's kind of back and forth. I guess sooner or later I've got to present it one way."
The way he's currently presenting it is with the introduction of a band behind him. The first full Lanky with band show took place at the Dewey Beach Festival in October. Right now it's a straight four piece, traditional rock and roll setup with two guitars, bass and drums. In the future, Lanky says he would like to experiment by adding a keyboard or cello to the mix.
"I want to keep it interesting and fun," he said. "I don't want to be just another rock band or a rock band with me up front playing acoustic guitar."
If you've seen Lanky play before, hearing him with a band makes for a much stronger, rock sound. At times, it becomes easier to get a sense of his alternative music influences with the band sound.
"It's a lot more rock," he says. "I mean, I like to rock. I've kind of felt like I've been a wolf in sheep's clothing playing these acoustic gigs because I'm kind of a rocker."
This is the first time he has played in a band in quite a while and things like soundchecks and coordinating schedules take much more time now.
"It's just a big shock considering I used to just throw the guitar in and go," explained Lanky. "I think it's good that I was able to do that for a while because I think I would have shot myself if we had to take four guys around the country."
Sadly, Lanky is one of many New Jersey artists that have a larger fanbase outside of their home state. Maybe going electric will be the answer to building his fanbase. After all, it worked out rather well for Bob Dylan.
Gary Wien has been covering the arts since 2001 and has had work published with Jersey Arts, Elmore Magazine, Princeton Magazine, Backstreets and other publications. He is a three-time winner of the Asbury Music Award for Top Music Journalist and the author of Beyond the Palace (the first book on the history of rock and roll in Asbury Park) and Are You Listening? The Top 100 Albums of 2001-2010 by New Jersey Artists. In addition, he runs New Jersey Stage and the online radio station The Penguin Rocks. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.